This disc, recorded in 2002, has either taken a long time to reach us or was just released recently. The title, Serenissime Sonate, refers to the city of Venice as being “serene”, and the notes go so far as to suggest that the name of the city itself comes from “veni” “etiam”, meaning “come back again and again.” But the most interesting thing about the disc is that these composers are ones who were creating music in the city right after its bout with the plague that carried away 50,000 of its residents (over 700,000 in Italy). Music theaters began to be built, and a distinctive, decisive style emerged that became a hallmark of the Italian brand name, first perpetrated by Gabrieli, Monteverdi (who was responsible for the Venice renaissance reaching Vienna), and others. The composers on this release will be unknown except for a few, but they are all creative spirits that know music inside and out, and not only are able to provide a listenable, unique style to their music, but also to incorporate many of the outside influences that so helped the city to consolidate its pressings on the musical world, especially the French influence.
The Sonatori De La Gioiosa Marca is a 20-year-old group that plays these period instruments with authority and assurance, and with no little degree of excitement and vigor. The 10 members are captured in very close but fruitful sound, and I can think of no better way than to take their tour through the old city just recovering from one of the worst crises even imposed on any population.
— Steven Ritter