Lulier: Cantate e Sonate
Accademia Ottoboni, Francesca Boncompagni, Marco Ceccato
ALPHA 406. 54’16
The composer Giovanni Lorenzo Lulier (c1660-1700) has been overshaded by most of his contemporary’s from 17th-century Italy and, on the showing of the music on this recording, the reason seems to be sadly clear. There is a phrase I sometimes use on occasions like this – that a composer has been “plucked from well-deserved obscurity”. I am afraid that it applies here.
Lulier was nicknamed Giovannino del Violone (Little John of the Violone) because of his prowess on the cello. He also played the trombone, and was a regular member of the musical establishment that furnished Rome’s wealthy inhabitants with entertainments. His principal playing and composing opportunities came in the entourage of Cardinal Ottoboni, so the title of the group performing on this recording is perhaps appropriate. Accademia Ottoboni is directed by cellist Marco Ceccato so, with its prominent cello writing, it seems an ideal partnership of performers and performed.
Soprano Francesca Boncompagni features in the four secular cantatas, her voice not always appearing to be quite as stable as it should be, with occasional problems with vibrato and intonation. The instrumental accompaniments and solo pieces are competently performed, albeit a little aggressively at times. The recording balance favours the cello rather too much, and also has a rather curious balance across the range, favouring the upper registers of instruments making the sound rather top-heavy. You may be able to adjust your playing device to counter this, but it should perhaps have been dealt with before issue. The harpsichord sounds prominent, and the continuo realisations a little excessive.
Although there is certainly some interest features on this recording, notably the prominent role for the cello, this is perhaps a recording for the specialist collector and friends and family of the performers.