As the Vivaldi Project points out in the liner notes for this release, string trios from the classical era are woefully under-represented in the performing and recording repertoire. It’s not because instrumental grouping’s unusual — there were hundreds of string trios written between 1750 and 1827 (the approximate dates of the classical era). And, as this recording shows, it’s not because only one or two were worth performing.
The Vivaldi Project presents a snapshot of an era with a delightful mix of both major and minor composers. As expected, the string trios of Boccherini, Haydn, and Johann Christian Bach are finely-crafted works. But so are those of the lesser-know composers in this program. Carlo Campioni, a student of Tartini, is only known through his few published string trios. By contrast, Christian Cannabich, Stamitz’ successor at Mannheim, is (relatively) famous for his symphonies and violin concertos.
Felici Giardini, an Italian composer, and colleague of JC Bach was known more for his operas and chamber music. Giuseppe Cambini, who made his fortune in Paris, is best remembered as a symphonic composer (although he also wrote over 100 string quartets).
It’s a fascinating program. Although all the works were written within the same style period, each composer has a different idea of how these three instruments should interact. Their melodic styles are significantly different as well, which helps create a varied and engaging program. And for me, there were a few surprises. I was particularly taken by the beautiful melodies of Cambini.
The Vivaldi Project are masterful early music performances. They have a clean ensemble sound, that’s precise, yet fluid and responsive. This release reveals a new side of favorite composers such as Haydn or Boccherini and showcases some outstanding works by unfamiliar talents. For me, the Vivaldi Project’s succeeded in their goal. This is definitely music that needs to be explored more thoroughly.
Discovering the Classical String Trio
Johann Christian Bach: Sonata in D major, B. 36; Carlo Antonio Campioni: Sonata in G minor, Op. 1, No. 2; Luigi Boccherini: Trio in D major, Op. 2, No. 4; Franz Joseph Haydn: Divertimento in B minor, Hob.V:III; Christian Cannabich: Tio in B-flat major, Op. 3, No. 1; Giuseppe Maria Cambini: Trio Concertant in A major, Op. 33, No. 1
The Vivaldi Project
MSR Classics 1621