'Improvvisata' - Sinfonie con titoli
This is an odd programme, rather short, and opening with an almost negligible piece of Vivaldi before going on to four Italian Classical symphonies, three of them real rarities. Sammartini’s Overture in places sounds like the work of someone capable of influencing Haydn, with the finale revealing that Sturm und Drang was not an exclusively Austro-German preserve. The prototype for that style is sometimes held to be the finale of Gluck’s Don Juan ballet, and it was out of admiration that Boccherini ripped it off in the finale of La casa del diavolo, a work in which he proves his own creative credentials in the other movements, dropping fandango-like hints of his adopted Spanish home. Boccherini’s is the most substantial and best-known symphony on this disc; new to almost everyone will be Carlo Monza’s La tempesta di mare, a work given over more to effect than musical argument, and Giuseppe Demachi’s Le campane di Roma, which, though far from taut, is full of ideas, instrumental colour and charm.
None of this is great music, in truth, but this is where Europa Galante come to the rescue, their combination of rigorous ensemble and interpretational panache bringing it to life. Certainly it is enough to lift this release from “curiosity” to something rather more enjoyable; whether it can provide more lasting stimulation time would have to tell.