“Music for a Queen” = ANGELO MICHELE BARTOLOTTI: Passacaglie in G; Suite in C; Folia in g; Suite in d; Suite in D – Fredrik Bock, Baroque guitar – LAWO

“Music for a Queen” = ANGELO MICHELE BARTOLOTTI (From Second Book for Guitar): Passacaglie in G; Suite in C; Folia in g; Suite in d; Suite in D – Fredrik Bock, Baroque guitar – LAWO Classics LWC1065, 64:14 [Distr. by Allegro] ****:

Queen Christina of Sweden is the woman whom the title of this album refers, and it features selections from the second of only two books of music published from the mysterious and barely-known Angelo Michele Bartolotti (ca. 1600s – 1668?). The Bologna native was invited midlife to Stockholm to serve at the Queen’s court, and evidently ended up following the maverick monarch when she abdicated the throne, converted to Roman Catholicism, and trotted off to Rome, and then Paris—where the composer ultimately reposed.

Contemporary accounts reveal the composer to be a very talented guitar and theorbo player, and his guitar music criticized as “too” difficult, though an apology he issued defends his goals in producing the books—not for beginners. And apparently, according to Mr. Bock, the musical notation is not the easiest and most beautiful of the era. But the music itself I find to be quite contemplative, reflective, and relaxing, not on the level on some other more noted masters of the age that wrote for the instrument, but intricate, logical, and beautifully constructed. My interest never waned during the entire disc, and Fredrik Bock’s subtle and quite engaging performances only add to the attraction, all caught in fine, colorful and clear sound.

—Steven Ritter

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