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Penguin Guide, January 2009

This splendid set of 12 concertos, published in Bologna in 1718, was dedicated to Prince Antoine I of Monaco, with whose court orchestra Manfredini was associated. The most famous of them is No. 12, a Christmas Concerto in the style of Torelli and Corelli, opening with a delightful Pastorale in siciliano rhythm. And if there are other influences here too, of Vivaldi in particular, and even anticipations of Handel, the music has its own individuality and is endlessly inventive. Allegros are vital and buoyant, slow movements tenderly touching, often featuring one or two solo violins. The Naxos performances here are both fresh and penetrating, with bouncing outer movements and expressive Adagios. Moreover the playing is perfectly I style, demonstrating how using modern instruments can be just as authentic as period manners in baroque music. The recording is absolutely natural, very much in the demonstration bracket.

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