The Modern Sounds of Dario Castello

What was the big hit of the publishing world of 1623? It wasn’t Shakespeare’s First Folio (which came out that year), but rather the omnibus of Dario Castello’s sonate concertate.

Over the next 40 years, they would remain continually in print, becoming a cornerstone of every major music library. Thanks to this new recording, I think I understand why.

Almost nothing is known of Dario Castello, save his music. His 30 sonate concertate are models of the Venetian Styl Moderno. Instrumental recitatives are paired with dramatically contrasting polyphonic sections.

The works are short, mercurial, and — apparently — technically challenging. As Castello wrote, “I declare that having observed the modern style, I could not have made them any easier.”

The Academy of Ancient Music, directed by Richard Egar is more that up to the challenge. Renaissance wind instruments like the early trombone, cornetto, and dulcian (sort of a bassoon) are notoriously hard to play, yet all sound with a purity of tone and warm expression that makes every phrase a gem. The ensemble is well-recorded, with a warm ambiance of a small chamber, but play cleanly so every note is discernable.

If you wish Monteverdi had written more instrumental music, this is the album for you. That’s not to say that Castello imitated Monteverdi, but they were both writing according to the “modern style.” Like Monteverdi’s madrigals, Castello’s 30 sonate concertate are rich in variety and inventiveness.

Dario Castello: Sonate concertate in Stil Moderno, Libro Primo
The Academy of Ancient Music; Richard Egar, director, harpsichord & organ
AAM Records

More Recent Posts

  • Italian Lute Virtuosi of the Renaissance – Jakob Lindberg

    There’s an art to putting a release together, especially one for a solo instrument. With only one instrumental timbre, the tracks can blend together into an uninteresting blur. But change up styles too much, and the album can sound disjointed. Lutenist Jakob Lindberg is a past master of program sequencing, and his latest album Italian […]

  • Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards on WTJU, Feb 25

    Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards, in town for a concert at The Front Porch the previous night (details), will stick around for a LIVE session out in WTJU’s lounge this Saturday morning at 9 (est).  Come on out and be part of the studio audience! Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards have a vision […]

  • Jazz at 100: Celebrating 100 years of Recorded Jazz

    On February 26, 1917, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band made the first jazz recording. Over the next 100 years, the music of jazz has brought forth transcendent leaps of creativity and staggering virtuosity. To celebrate this anniversary, WTJU is telling that story in its radio series – Jazz at 100. Jazz at 100 is the […]

  • Tasmin Little & Roxanna Panufnik – Four World Seasons

    It’s an interesting program, coupling Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” with Roxanna Panufnik’s modern take on the same subject. And it’s one that works very well. The connective thread is the talent of violinist Tasmin Little. Little’s performance of the “Four Seasons” with the BBC Symphony Orchestra is a spirited one. Her solo work is beautifully crafted […]

  • Spotify Playlists – 2/8 – 2/14

    Soulful Situation – 2/13/17 Hosted by Rum Cove From the Dixie-fried sounds of the Southern soul centers of Muscle Shoals, Memphis, New Orleans and Shreveport to the Uptown Rhythm and Blues shots from the Northern cities of Chicago, Detroit, New York and Philadelphia, Rum Cove puts you in a Situation that is Sooo Soulful! Soulful […]

  • Gallatin Canyon on Lambeth Live, Feb 24

    Gallatin Canyon will put on the February 24 edition of Lambeth Live (heard each Friday night from 8-9 on WTJU), and you are invited to be part of the studio audience for this FREE concert broadcast! 350 Emmet St N, Charlottesville on ye olde GPS will get you to the large lot (do NOT use […]