CARLO GRAZIANI, 6 Sonatas for Violoncello and Continuo op. 3 (Rubicon Classics, 2017)
“The cellist Stefano Cerrato plays with his Ensemble Armoniosa the Sonatas as imaginatively and variedly as they were composed. The curve of tension is always upright, the listener can dive into this mysterious land of sounds that feeds from any subterranean sources from Italy over France to northern Germany. Most entertaining, they take us on this journey from the playful, austere-austere and dancer baroque into the more sensitive Rococo. Balsam for stress-swept ears and souls.” Dr. Ingobert Waltenberger
DER-NEUER-MERKER.EU, October 2017 (Austria)
Original German text:
“Der Cellist Stefano Cerrato spielt mit seinem Ensemble Armoniosa die Sonaten so fantasie- und abwechslungsreich wie sie komponiert worden sind. Der Spannungsbogen bleibt stets aufrecht, der Zuhörer kann eintauchen in dieses geheimnisvolle Land der Töne, das sich aus irgend welchen unterirdischen Quellen von Italien über Frankreich bis Norddeutschland speist. Höchst unterhaltsam nehmen sie uns mit auf diese Fahrt vom verspielten, schnörkelig-strengen und tänzerischen Barock hin ins empfindsamere Rokoko. Balsam für stressgeplagte Ohren und Seelen.” Dr. Ingobert Waltenberger
DER-NEUER-MERKER.EU, October 2017 (Austria)
ABOUT ARMONIOSA (Platti’s release review, September 2017)
Recovering the Melodiousness.
The Ensemble Armoniosa brings Giovanni Benedetto Platti’s TrioSonatas to sparkle.
From the first to the last note. Fascinating, which different sound’s levels the musicians of the ensemble Armoniosa discover and release in the TrioSonatas of the Italian composer.
The charms of the musical composition can be so exquisite, because the violinist Francesco Cerrato, the cellist Stefano Cerrato and the other musicians (Marco Demaria, Cello, Michele Barchi, harpsichord, Daniele Ferretti, organ) painstakingly illuminate every detail. It is particularly striking that, unlike the trend of historically orientated specialists, especially from Italy, the ensemble is increasingly researched, made more and more playful, and the re-discoveries of (instrumental) singing are taking place: the cantilenas breathe the elegance and elegance of the line unfold with an always substantial sound of the finest edible melt. The Cerratos are not purists, but they form the singing lines, which they know how to decorate airily, sometimes also with a vivid vibrato, so that the violin and the cello come close to human singing, but also play the very richest qualities of the string instruments the sound.
Reliability and spiritual expanse.
The Ensemble Armoniosa has a compelling way to create tremendous moments of tension with dynamic means. Rarely, other performers in works of the middle eighteenth century discover passages which, through dynamic withdrawal, act as a recreation, from which the action then emerges. The Ensemble Armoniosa deserves the utmost recognition for such interpretative boldness.
Room for breathing.
Such moods and contrast effects, however, do not appear to be placed on the music, but developed out of it. The ensemble performs stylistically versed, plays on dissonances, emphasizes the tension, rounds phrases tastefully, creates the most elegant, softest punctures, pulls the notes bitingly and with slaps, creates opulent, enthralling increases, celebrates lyric melody and gives the Music has a lot of space to breathe, even in the rhythmically gripping passages, which unfold a properly rocking groove. From the “sewing machine” baroque of the 20th century and terraces dynamics you are lucky to be light years away – here everything is in tension-filled movement… The ensemble Armoniosa works out with very fine flexibility and close coordination of the solo voices with the continuo very precise and colored.
KLASSIK.COM, 8th September 2017 (Germany)
Original German text:
“Wiederentdeckung des Gesangs.
Das Ensemble Armoniosa bringt Giovanni Benedetto Plattis Triosonaten zum Funkeln.
Mitreißend vom ersten bis zum letzten Ton. Faszinierend, welche klanglichen Schichten die Musiker des Ensembles Armoniosa in den Triosonaten des italienischen Komponisten Giovanni Benedetto Plattis entdecken und freilegen.
Die Reize der musikalischen Satzanlage können sich jedoch nur so prächtig entfalten, weil der Geiger Francesco Cerrato, der Cellist Stefano Cerrato sowie die anderen beteiligten Musiker (Marco Demaria, Cello; Michele Barchi, Cembalo; Daniele Ferretti, Orgel) jedes Detail akribisch beleuchten und ausformen. Auffällig ist vor allem, dass dieses Ensemble im Gegensatz zu dem Trend historisch orientierter Spezialisten, zumal aus Italien, immer forscher, knackiger und fetziger zu spielen, wie die Wiederentdeckung des (instrumentalen) Gesangs wirkt: Die Kantilenen atmen Weite und Eleganz der Linie, sie entfalten mit stets substanzreichem Klang edelsten kantablen Schmelz. Die Cerratos sind keine Puristen, sondern formen die sanglichen Linien, die sie luftig zu verzieren wissen, zuweilen auch mit sachtem Vibrato, so dass Violine und Cello dem menschlichen Gesang ganz nah kommen, gleichzeitig aber die ureigensten Qualitäten der Streichinstrumente ebenso facettenreich ausspielen, etwa wenn der Klang in der Triosonate c-Moll (WD 694) im Mittelsatz mit Lamento-Topos ganz fahl und blass wird.
Lauerstellung und spirituelle Weite.
Dem Ensemble Armoniosa gelingt es auf berückende Weise, mit dynamischen Mitteln ungeheure Spannungsmomente zu erzeugen. Selten entdecken andere Interpreten in Werken des mittleren 18. Jahrhunderts Passagen, die durch dynamische Zurücknahme wie eine Lauerstellung wirken, aus der dann die Aktion hervorbricht. Für solche interpretatorische Kühnheit gebührt dem Ensemble Armoniosa höchste Anerkennung.
Raum zum Atmen.
Derlei Stimmungen und Kontrastwirkungen erscheinen jedoch nicht wie von außen auf die Musik gesetzt, sondern aus ihr heraus entwickelt. Das Ensemble geht stilistisch versiert zu Werke, spielt auf Dissonanzen schwungvoll hin und betont die Spannung, rundet Phrasen geschmackvoll ab, schafft eleganteste, sanfteste Punktierungen, zieht die Noten bissig und mit Schmackes durch, schafft opulente, mitreißende Steigerungen, zelebriert lyrischen Schmelz und gibt der Musik viel Raum zum Atmen, selbst in den rhythmisch griffigen Passagen, die einen regelrecht rockenden Groove entfalten. Vom Nähmaschinenbarock des 20. Jahrhunderts und Terrassendynamik ist man hier glücklicherweise Lichtjahre entfernt – hier ist alles in spannungserfüllter Bewegung.
Das Ensemble Armoniosa arbeitet dies mit feiner Flexibilität und engster Abstimmung der solistischen Stimmen mit dem Continuo ungemein präzise und farbig heraus. Ein Hochgenuss, zumal auch die klangtechnische Umsetzung höchsten Ansprüchen genügt! Eine in allen Belangen überzeugenderes Plädoyer für Plattis ist schlechterdings nicht vorstellbar.”
KLASSIK.COM, 8th September 2017 (Germany)
“Il recupero della cantabilità.
L’Ensemble Armoniosa porta le TrioSonate di Giovanni Benedetto Platti a scintillare.
Dalla prima all’ultima nota. Affascinante quanti livelli tonali scoprono ed espongono i musicisti dell’ensemble Armoniosa nelle TrioSonate del compositore italiano.
La meticolosità della forma.
Il fascino della frase nell’impianto musicale può svilupparsi così magnificamente perché il violinista Francesco Cerrato, il violoncellista Stefano Cerrato e gli altri musicisti coinvolti (Marco Demaria, violoncello – Michele Barchi, clavicembalo – Daniele Ferretti, organo) illuminano e modellano meticolosamente ogni dettaglio. E ‘evidente soprattutto che questo ensemble sia profondamente in contrasto con la tendenza di alcuni specialisti del barocco, in particolare in Italia, che ricercano più la croccantezza e il “groove” rispetto alla cantabilità degli strumenti.
L’eleganza delle linee melodiche e il respiro delle frasi si svolgono sempre con un suono strutturato e con la migliore fusione del gruppo. I Cerrato non sono puristi, ma cesellano le frasi cantabili con abbellimenti ariosi e un vibrato delicato, rendendo come voce umana il suono dei loro strumenti ed esaltando le qualità di strumenti a corda così diversi come violino e violoncello…
Affidabilità e distensione spirituale.
L’Ensemble Armoniosa ha un modo convincente per creare grandi momenti di tensione con tutti i mezzi dinamici. Raramente negli ensemble di musica antica emerge con tanta forza l’azione dinamica di tale repertorio di riscoperta. L’Ensemble Armoniosa merita il massimo riconoscimento per una tale audacia interpretativa.
Spazio al respiro.
Tali effetti di contrasto, tuttavia, non sembrano imporsi sulla musica, ma si sviluppano da essa. L’ensemble è stilisticamente molto esperto, suona oscillando sulle dissonanze e sottolinea con gusto le tensioni delle frasi, crea eleganti e gentili cesure, disegna passaggi di note veloci con rapidi “schiaffi”, creando opulenta, inebriante fusione lirica, lasciando alla Musica molto spazio per respirare, anche nei passaggi ritmici che bloccano il procedere fluido. Siamo fortunatamente molto lontani dalle “macchine” barocche e dalle “terrazze” dinamiche del Ventesimo secolo, qui tutto è in costante movimento tra la tensione e la pienezza della risoluzione… L’ensemble Armoniosa si esprime con grande flessibilità e perfetta coordinazione delle voci soliste, supportate dal basso continuo molto preciso e colorato.”
KLASSIK.COM, 8th September 2017 (Germany)
ARMONIOSA CONCERT IN INNSBRUCK
(6th May 2017 – Innsbrucker Festwochen der Alte Musik)
The Ensemble Armoniosa from Asti did not let any notes or sounds fall into the wind. The cellist Stefano Cerrato, who wonderfully played the early Classic Sonata by Graziani, and the violinist Francesco Cerrato, with one of the RosenkranzSonaten by Biber, are outstanding “virtuosi”, and also with the continuo of Michele Barchi (harpsichord) and Marco Demaria (violoncello) they are a fully experienced “Team”, as they demonstrated at the end with the Vivaldi’s Follia.
TIROLER TAGESZEITUNG, 8th May 2017 (Austria)
Original German text:
“Das Ensemble Armoniosa aus Asti ließ sich weder Noten und Töne noch seinen Anspruch vom Wind verwehen. Die Sonaten des spätbarocken Italieners Giovanni Benedetto Platti, der lange Jahre in Würzburg wirkte, schwingen in den raschen und singen in den langsamen Sätzen, noch deutlicher war die Frühklassik in der Violoncello-Sonate des Carlo Graziani auszumachen. Der Cellist Stefano Cerrato und der Geiger Francesco Cerrato, der mit einer der Rosenkranzsonaten von Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Bibern nach höchstem Anspruch griff, sind vorzügliche Virtuosen und mit dem Continuo von Michele Barchi (Cembalo) und Marco Demaria (Violoncello) ein eingespieltes Team, demonstriert zuletzt bei Antonio Vivaldis „La Follia“.”
TIROLER TAGESZEITUNG, 8th May 2017
GIOVANNI BENEDETTO PLATTI, 6 TrioSonatas for Violin, Violoncello and Continuo (MDG, 2016)
The main Armoniosa’s qualities consist in the cohesion of the players’ sound and in a research aimed to obtain a soft and bright timbre amalgam, carefully avoiding those harshness that often emerge with the original instruments and by using a well balanced agogic directions, quality widely enhanced by a high-level recoding for naturalness and brightness. The result is perfectly suited to the name of the Ensemble, so harmonious, persuasive, sometimes dreamy, always very pleasant.
MUSICA, April 2017 (Italy)
Original Italian text:
“I maggiori pregi di Armoniosa consistono nella coesione dell’insieme e in una ricerca finalizzata ad ottenere un amalgama timbrico morbido e luminoso, evitando accuratamente quelle asprezze che spesso emergono con gli strumenti originali e facendo ricorso ad una condotta agogica nel segno dell’equilibrio e della misura, qualità ampiamente valorizzate da una registrazione di alto livello per naturalezza e limpidezza. Il risultato finale è perfettamente rispondente al nome della formazione, vale a dire armonioso, suadente, a tratti sognante, sempre assai gradevole.”
MUSICA, April 2017 (Italy)
Le panache avec lequel les musiciens de l’Ensemble Armoniosa s’emparent de ces partitions gomme ces inégalités. L’abondance des motifs en imitation et des fugatos (mouvements rapides), les arcs mélodiques en tierces parallèles (mouvements lents) attestent de leur parfaite cohésion. On est aussi sensible à la chaleur et la rondeur des timbres qui se dégagent des instruments anciens, même si davantage de charme ressort de la musique de chambre avec hautbois du compositeur.
The performances by the Italian ensemble Armoniosa are very attractive, being accomplished technically, thoughtful and unfailingly musical. I was especially taken by the readings of some of the slower movements, where there is much affecting cantabile playing. Full marks, too, for the stylish ornamentation the players apply to repeats (most movements are binary form). One curiosity is the use of both harpsichord and organ as keyboard continuo at the same time, which presumably accounts for the thickening up of the bass texture.
earlymusicreview.com, 30th March 2017 (UK)
The interpretation is fascinating, elegant, light and flaky. The music seems pulsating, nuanced, lively and technically clean. And this interpretation sparkles with a liveliness and sensuality, as the music from Italy does very well. Platti, so played – is simply cool!
TOCCATA, March 2017 (Germany)
It is very substantial music in an attractive mixture of Italian and German style; similarities with Handel and Telemann are not uncommon.
The ensemble Armoniosa exudes its qualities with warm timbres, intimate expression and moving cantility. The composition of the basso continuo with cello, harpsichord and organ adds to the opulence. (Music ***** – Sound *****)
FONO FORUM, February 2017 (Germany)
What is interesting about these six trio sonatas beautifully played on period instruments (at A’=415 Hz pitch) by Armoniosa, an Italian ensemble founded in 2012, is that they feature the cello as a partner to the violin, rather than the typical two-violin melody voices. The fantastic Super Audio sound achieves a clear separation of all the instruments with perhaps a slight bias towards the cello, which is flattered throughout. The continuo alternates between harpsichord and an especially attractive chamber organ. (…) There is no sense of routine in the playing; the ensemble shows great attentiveness to nuances of the style. There is just about enough variety in the recording, although one would gladly have welcomed a diversionary oboe or transverse flute. All in all, these are very fine performances which expand our knowledge and appreciation of the Italian Baroque during a fertile period of transition. MD&G has once again shown why they are among the best in delivering unadulterated sonic experiences with great depth and precision.
AUDIOPHILE AUDITION, December 2016 (UK)
The only four-year-old ensemble Armoniosa has set itself the goal to belong to the top. You can see that on this recording. Their colourful and technically appealing orchestral make the Plattis’sonatas an enrichment not only for the cello lover, but also for every other baroque listener.
PIZZICATO, 12th December 2016 (Luxembourg)
The sonatas are all very elegant, sometimes seductive and suggest a pleasing to playful tone. Imitatorically, the fast sets of assuming ease, expressive melody lines in the slow movements – all this speaks for Platti’s Italian heritage; Coupled with an insensible sensitivity, Platti’s sonatas in their departure from the strict counterpoint, but also to what is called the so-called gallant style. The ensemble Armoniosa, based on original instruments and historically orientated, makes this music completely unpretentious for itself. It is true that some of the rhetorical aspects might be somewhat more elaborate, or a little more attention may be given to the emotional content of many sentences. But the clear articulation and excellent phrasing art, at all, the fine elasticity and the natural vocal expression in the play of the entire ensemble, take for granted.
KLASSIK-HEUTE.COM, 6th December 2016 (Germany)
Benedetto Platti’s Trio Sonatas are no works to trigger enthusiasm. Irrelevant pieces for the court of Würzburg which best are taken with a Silvaner glass. But the young Ensemble Armoniosa teaches a better lesson: they turn these six pieces into elegant and empathic music. This recording, released by the audiophile label Dabringhaus and Grimm, appears and makes the icing on the cake. (***** Outstanding)
JOURNAL FRANKFURT, November 2016 (Germany)
ANTONIO VIVALDI, La Stravaganza op.4 (MDG, 2015)
The exquisite chaconne from the final concerto of Vivaldi’s La stravaganza may be worth the entry price alone. But this second set of 12 concertos for violin and strings with continuo – published, like the hugely influential 1711 set L’estro armonico, by Estienne Roger of Amsterdam – positively o’er brims with further musical delights. So it’s hard to believe it was less well received than its predecessor, especially when performed by such persuasive advocates of Vivaldi’s bravura originality as Italian period instrument band Armoniosa and violinist/director Francesco Cerrato. Cerrato and Armoniosa enter, well, if not a crowded field then one distinguished more by quality than quantity, and among my enduring favourites are the suavely elegant Monica Huggett with the Academy of Ancient Music under Hogwood, the characterful Rachel Podger with Arte dei Suonatori and the ardently stylish Fabio Biondi with Europa Galante (Virgin, 7/11 – though the latter’s is not a complete recording). But the new kids on the block – Cerrato founded Armoniosa only in 2012 – have convincingly staked their claim with this debut recording for MDG. Using both harpsichord and organ continuo for colouristic effects throughout, the general approach is however immediately apparent with the opening B flat major concerto. The strongly accented down-bows of the Allegro anchor a gentler flow enlivened by strong contrasts between solo and concertante episodes, presaging Cerrato’s deliciously ornamented line in the Adagio before he cuts loose in the final stages of the closing Allegro with some typically Vivaldian high-register passagework. And so it goes on. Armoniosa render the following dramatic E minor concerto (No 2) with the requisite chiaroscuro, connecting with the sfumato of the atmospheric slow movement of the A minor concerto (No 4), marked Grave e sempre piano. The relaxed expansiveness of the Largo of No 7 in C – the only four-movement concerto – is masterly and recalls La Serenissima’s approach (Avie, A/09). The brisk antiphonal exchanges between the two solo violins in the D major No 11’s Allegro create an electricity that dissipates in the following Largo, which features a particularly rich cello accompaniment. An impressive debut indeed. William Yeoman
GRAMOPHONE, August 2015 (UK) – Click here
This is an extremely elegant, beautifully poised and nuanced rendering of Vivaldi’s Op.4. It stands up to the great recent recordings of Vivaldi, notably by Avi Avital, and will be a brilliant addition to any enthusiast’s shelf. The works themselves are, not to be too obvious, highly Vivaldian. Works such as Op.4 are so acutely emblematic of Vivaldi’s composition methods, innovations and approaches to timbre that they could stand as a ‘typical’ or ‘representative’ Vivaldi work: and, if you ask me, are delicious precisely for this reason. All those tessellated patterns and cycles of fifths we remember from the Four Seasons, and those virtuosic string flourishes with punchy continuo from the mandolin concerto: these are amply represented here on this enormous double-disc, and the variety here is a testament to both Vivaldi and the editors. The performances are also exceptional. The first violin (Cerrato) is a truly wonderful player, with such delicate nuance in every phrase. His understanding of Vivaldi is exceptional, and he truly balances that festivity and solemnity always at odds in Vivaldi’s corpus. I would buy this pair of discs just to hear him play. It is the most impressive rendering of Vivaldi’s string work I have heard for a very long time. In all, this is one to buy immediately, and not just if you like Vivaldi: if you fancy something richly detailed and complicated, but something moving and fun, then buy this over any other recent recording of Vivaldi or other Venetian Baroque. It is stunning. Dan Sperrin
FANFARE MAGAZINE, Mar – Apr 2015 (USA)
A recording of the Concertos op. 4 by Antonio Vivaldi that is fresh, powerful, and absolutely compelling stylistically.
Armoniosa is still a relatively young ensemble. It was founded in 2012 in Asti, a small Italian town between Trieste and Genoa. Two years later, in 2014, the ensemble signed a contract with the German label MDG for a five-year project with recordings of Italian music from the seventeenth century. This cooperative venture has now yielded its first fruits: Antonio Vivaldi’s Twelve Concertos op. 4, printed under the name of La Stravaganza. A lofty goal, one might think, inasmuch as Vivaldi recordings are really more than plentiful enough, and the twelve violin concertos have also been recorded more than once.
And yet: the listener is immediately surprised. What freshness comes his way! A production conveying the audio impression of a result of the various endeavors – if not the experiments too – in Vivaldi interpretation during the last good twenty years. Every musical utterance seems to have been perfectly formed with a sleepwalker’s flawless intuition; every tempo, every dynamic nuance is just right. The ensemble really has no need at all to call attention to itself with a one-sided, new, original interpretation. Under its leader and soloist Francesco Cerrato, who renders the music with finely balanced virtuosity and melancholy and both with fiery verve and calm narrative flowing, it has no need of dynamic excesses, breakneck tempos, or the brutal aggression of endless sound exposure in order to be completely convincing. The ensemble instead plays the concertos just a bit more rigorously, more powerfully, and more swiftly in the tempos than it would if tending toward the romanticizing of the music. Even after almost two hours one does not have the feeling that one now has heard enough Vivaldi. The exciting, bold extravagances after which the twelve concertos are named are found where they belong: in Vivaldi’s music, not in the interpretation.
The concertos were recorded in the concert hall of the Marienmünster Abbey. The sound engineer Friedrich Wilhelm Rödding has done a tremendous job. The sound is fresh, powerful, and transparent. A recording that makes the listener happy and arouses his interest in the further productions on MDG! Prof. Dr. Michael Bordt
KLASSIK.COM, July 2015 (Austria) – Click here
Within the new Comparing Discography this recording comes 2nd after Rachel Podger. If in comparison with Vivaldi’s “average” violin concerto we are here talking more about experiment and phantasy [or fancy], then this vital, brillant young Italians prove it. Regarding Francesco Cerrato we are talking about the debut CD made by a young, enthusiastic and very good youthful ensemble who know the devices of the authentic line. They care for strong accents and useful [wholesome] contrast. Within the slow movements they take advantage of the ornamental options. As it should be, the continuo is shared by harpsichord and organ. Altogether a promising, refreshing and admirable debüt. To realize this you should listen for example to the last movement of no. 6, the second movement of no. 7 or the last movement of no. 2. Moreover everything has been wonderfully recorded. Jan de Kruijff
MUSICALIFEITEN, May 2015 (Netherlands) – Click here
This interpretation of Armoniosa is designed to fly high. Reveals a deep understanding of the composer’s music and exudes strength, energy and internal tension, has very judicious times, Cerrato exhibits a unique technical skill and a round sound is achieved, perfect bound and rich in color… The listening is, really, a joy. We warmly welcome Armoniosa ensemble that will bring us in the future many rewarding moments. Good, very good starting!
ELARTEDELAFUGA.COM, May 2015 (Spain) – Click here
The recording by the Italian ensemble Armoniosa sounds so immediate and incisive that it is as if one were experiencing it live. Each instrument can be located with precision; virtuosity can be admired individually, and the ensemble effort conveys sonorous enjoyment.
AUDIO, May 2015 (Germany)
The Italian baroque ensemble Armoniosa, founded little more than two years ago, has come up with an incredibly exciting reading of Vivaldi’s twelve violin concertos op. 4 “La Stravaganza”. These concertos are at least as well known as the famous “Four Seasons”, and thus not necessarily easy to interpret freshly. But the thirteen players around the violinist Francesco Cerrato have dared to do it and gone for a rigorous approach. They combine an exuberant zest with the strict observation of tempo favoured by reconstructionists and the crystal-clear, mordant tone, almost aggressive in its effect, of the disciples of authentic sound. In this these musicians are not following any dogma, simply their own instinct for effect and flamboyance.
JOURNAL FRANKFURT, 1st April 2015 (Germany)
The Ensemble “Armoniosa”, founded in 2012 in Asti under the leadership of Francesco Cerrato, plays Antonio Vivaldi’s “La Stravaganza” op. 4 with a sumptuous sound, bold rhythms, strong colours, well-marked accents, yet clear and distinct articulation. With this recording “Armoniosa” marks out its own special place on the Italian baroque scene. MDG’s 2 + 2 + 2 sound is superb.
PIZZICATO, 22th February 2015 (Luxembourg) – Click here