This recording is the first presentation of a recently rediscovered manuscript of twelve sonatas for recorder and basso continuo by the English composer Robert Valentine.
Born into a family of musicians in Leicester between 1671 and 1674, he set up house in Rome sometime before 1701, and lived there until his death in 1747. Valentine was known in Italy by the name of »Roberto Valentini«, or »Valentino«, often with the addition of Inglese to distinguish him from the Florentine violinist and composer Giuseppe Valentini, also active in Rome during these years, and at one time a colleague in the service of the Marquis Ruspoli. His identity laboured under this homonymy, and he found it difficult to integrate himself with the competitive musical milieu in Rome at the time.
Alongside his instrumental performing, Valentine taught the recorder, and possibly also the transverse flute, but he dedicated himself chiefly to instrumental composition, leaving behind a large body of work. For the recorder alone he wrote no less than sixty sonatas with basso continuo, as well as numerous sonatas for two recorders without bass, for two recorders with bass, as well as a concerto for recorder, two violins and basso continuo.
Corelli clearly served as the model for the first collections, and he may have been the reason Valentine made the voyage from England: if he entertained a desire to study with the master, we don't know whether it was ever fulfilled or not. Over time, Valentine displayed more of his eclectic side, following the dominant musical trends, and approaching the galant style by adopting the more theatrical, pathetic gestures of the Neapolitan composers. Valentine's success in amateur circles is due principally to his capacity for combining writing that, while melodic, pleasing and brilliant, remains comfortably playable, even at speed, with slow movements that manage to sustain the interest of both player and listener through an abundance of pleasant and evocative melodies.
The manuscript of these twelve sonatas is part of an authentic, representative collection of recorder repertoire belonging to a true amateur of the time, Paolo Antonio Parensi, merchant and Gonfalone of Lucca around 1704. It is conserved at the Biblioteca Palatina in Parma under the shelf number Sanv.D.145.
ENSEMBLE MEDIOLANUM was founded in 1999 by prize-winners of several renowned international competitions and cultural foundations, including the Internationaler Bach-Wettbewerb Leipzig, Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes, and the Musikpreis des Bundesverbandes der Deutschen Industrie. After winning some prestigious international competitions, (the Telemann-Wettbewerb in Magdeburg and at the Polytechnische Gesellschaft in Frankfurt am Main, among others), the ensemble received grants from the Deutsche Phono-Akademie Hamburg, the Gotthard-Schierse-Stiftung Berlin, as well as from Yehudi Menuhin — Live Music Now. Mediolanum has performed at many major festivals, including the Leipzig Bach-Fest, and the Musikfestspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, as well as giving concerts in Brussels, Milan and New York. They have performed in prestigious concert halls such as the Berliner Philharmonie and worked with several German broadcasters. The ensemble's members teach at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Frankfurt am Main.
Sabine Ambos, alto recorder
Felix Koch, violoncello
Wiebke Weidanz, harpsichord