Civiletti review

from HBSNL #15 *)

Music of the Italian Baroque BUCCINA CANTORUM

Buccina Cantorum Records,
PO Box 168,
Stanhope NJ 07874.

Recorded July 2002.

In this impressive new period instrument CD, Bahb Civiletti has given us the opportunity to become familiar with his notable baroque trumpet playing. As an American performer who concertizes regularly in Europe, this recording should convince many of us that not all the talent lies "Across the pond."

He has chosen to set all the selections between two ricercati by Fantini. Positioned like strong sculpted bookends, these provide the beginning and end works on this disc and they establish a tone, both being played with great verve and style. Here we are given the opportunity to hear Civiletti play solamente, and by his doing so we are reminded of what the trumpet was meant to do, i.e. inspire awe and thrill the audience. The listener is grabbed by the lapels and told, " Listen to this; here is what a trumpet sounds like." Far from simply blasting out the notes however, he opts for a combination of beauty, strength, and vigor in playing these showpieces, and the results are simply dazzling.

The main body of this recording is an exploration of music for baroque trumpet in varied settings. Included are vocal arias with trumpet, two sonatas, and instrumental duets (Pairing him with no one less than the German baroque trumpet virtuoso Friedemann Immer), all of which are from the Italian Baroque.

The vocal arias with trumpet which are included here were most likely written for castrato, the prevalent voice in Italy during this period. Castrati were the "superstars" of the courts and opera, so therefore composers lavished upon these now extinct musicians their most expressive and emotional efforts, focusing on the throes of love and war. In these arias Polish Mezzo Soprano/Contralto Katy Sumrow provides the vocal equivalent of this exotic sound in a convincing and artistic manner.

The aria performances are engaging and the trumpet playing a delight to listen to. The combination had been considered an especially suitable pairing during this era, as the sound of the castrato voice was often compared to that of the trumpet. If one wished to single out any work from among all these polished efforts, this listener was particularly drawn to the aria, La Vittoria Segue by Antonio Caldara, from his 1718 opera Ifigenia in Aulide. Resplendent with high `E"s , this performance shows the skill of Civeletti's playing in what is a little known work, apparently unpublished.

Among the purely instrumental works, trumpeter Civiletti provides an especially effective rendition of the Viviani Sonata: Prima. In the first movement Andante, the performance begins with a rubato expressivo style with a gradual accelerando which, while is unusual from other recordings, works to great advantage musically in this case. A cadenza, included in the fourth movement Allegro, once again affirms the musical and technical accomplishments of Mr. Civiletti.

Two duets composed by our Tuscan friend Girolamo Fantini are provided as well. Immer and Civiletti collaborate in a due Tromba detta del Ricasoli and Gagliarda a due tromba detta del Coppoli One easily assumes that the two artists (Civiletti and Immer) have played together so much that they are now of one mind musically. The performances are exemplars of trumpet duets. They are not a competition, but a unified approach in style, harmonic content and pitch, i.e. music for the music's sake itself. The playing is marked by a noble and haunting quality. The intonation is so flawless that often one hears many more instruments than are really playing.

Also provided are arias by Torelli, Scarlatti, and Ziani, each as engaging and wonderfully played as expected. The range of quality playing, with the martial and the lyrical equally satisfying, is what makes this entire disc a success.

Keyboardest Cynthia Mars makes up the other third of Buccina Cantorum , and she contributes gracefully and expertly on the virginal. Guest artists on the recording are Mathais Nagle, baroque organ and as mentioned, Friedemann Immer, baroque trumpet.. Liner notes are provided along with libretti and translations. These notes indicate that the ensemble performs on period instruments, and is dedicated to performance styles of the 17th and 18th century. Mr. Civiletti plays on a Baroque Trumpet by Rainer Egger of Basil, Switzerland, modeled on an original by Leonhard Ehe II (1663-1724)

Frank Hostica

[back] - *) review from Historic Brass Society used with permission.