Giovanni Battista Martini (1706-1784)
Sinfonie a 4 da Camera
If the importance of Padre Martini as music scholar and theoretician is today unquestioned by history and critics, light still remains to be shed on Padre Martini the composer. Indeed, he was the author of numerous compositions, which document a wide-range interest in the most disparate musical genres. Scholars have instead concentrated a great deal of attention on the sacred production of this Franciscan friar. Moreover, they have let themselves be distracted by the romanticized literature which paints him as excessively severe and academic. As a result, Padre Martini has gained a reputation as an isolated and unshakeable defender of polyphony, a conservative zealot who was certainly incapable of composing particularly interesting music. This image, however, is destined to disintegrate, especially in the face of the ten chamber Sinfonie heard on this recording. These works, emblematic of Martini’s art, are held in a corpus of twenty-four Sinfonie written between 1736 and 1777, all preserved today at the Civico Museo Bibliografico of Bologna in autograph manuscripts. Listening to them will cancel false prejudices and instead reveal Padre Martini not as a nostalgic cultivator of the past but rather as a composer interested in knowing and assimilating the new expressive languages of his day. Above all, he proves to be not only capable of the ingratiating galant grace and vivacity which will be fully realized in the music of his student, Johann Christian Bach, but also subject to the pre-romantic pathos of his contemporary, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.