An Englishman Abroad. Nicola Matteis the Younger and the English style in 18th Century Europe. © 2023 Signum Records Ltd

CD Spotlight

A Glorious Compilation

Italian baroque music heard by GERALD FENECH

'... flawless, full of technical prowess, virtuosic flair and great creative energy.'


This excellent set is focused mainly on Nicola Matteis (c1650-c1713), an Anglo-Italian who forged his musical career mainly in England and is considered as the earliest notable Italian baroque violinist in London. Born in London of an Italian father and English mother, Matteis considered himself more Italian than English, and diarist Roger North judged in retrospect that Matteis was the best violinist after Corelli.

He enjoyed significant popularity in his time, but after his death he was utterly forgotten until the second half of the twentieth century. Very little is known of his early life, but in the early 1670s Matteis came to London and had a city merchant as sponsor. Those who heard Matteis play the violin were astounded by his command of the instrument, and his fame spread very quickly. Indeed, contemporary reports describe Matteis as inspired, and his playing was so ravishing that he was the cause of constant astonishment.

Matteis enjoyed great artistic and commercial success with his published music, notably four books of 'Ayres' (1676-1685), but when he married a rich widow in 1700 he retired from the London musical scene and left for Vienna, where he ended his days in ill health and poverty.

Matteis is credited with changing the English taste for violin playing from the French style to a newer, Italian one, and his reputation grew through his lifetime and resulted in high praise for his spectacular concerts, where his audiences were given the notion that more than one violin was playing.

Listen — Nicola Matteis the Younger: Sarabanda (Violin Concerto in B flat)
(SIGCD751 CD1 track 10, 0:00-0:36) ℗ 2023 La Serenissima :

Nicola Matteis the Younger, as he is known, has some very distinguished company on this exciting release. Indeed, such names as Giuseppe Antonio Brescianello, Antonio Caldara, Henry Purcell, Georg Philipp Telemann and Antonio Vivaldi are all represented with some hugely inventive pieces.

Listen — Vivaldi: Allegro (Concerto II: Il favorito
(SIGCD751 CD2 track 3, 0:00-0:54) ℗ 2023 La Serenissima :

All of the music on this album is rather fortuitously Carolean; either written for Charles II of England or for Charles VI, the Holy Roman Emperor. It is all too easy to think that English style and English musicians were unknown on the continent in the early eighteenth century, but this selection of music shows that this was not the case.

Listen — Purcell: Chacony in G minor
(SIGCD751 CD1 track 1, 0:03-0:54) ℗ 2023 La Serenissima :

The programme includes some cracking dances and dance suites, as well as a ravishingly beautiful Vivaldi concerto and two superb Chaconnes, one by Brescianello, the other by Purcell.

Listen — Brescianello: Chaconne in A
(SIGCD751 CD2 track 15, 0:01-0:55) ℗ 2023 La Serenissima :

Matteis makes his bow with a splendid violin concerto in B flat and a ballet by the name of La Verità nell'Inganno.

Listen — Caldara/Matteis: Ouverture (La Verità nell'Inganno)
(SIGCD751 CD1 track 12, 2:36-3:35) ℗ 2023 La Serenissima :

Adrian Chandler and his magnificent La Serenissima have their hearts and souls in this music, and performances are flawless, full of technical prowess, virtuosic flair and great creative energy. A glorious compilation as fresh and captivating as it is gorgeously nerve-soothing. Sound and presentation are a joy to behold.

Copyright © 7 June 2023 Gerald Fenech,
Gzira, Malta



 << Home              Next review >>