This double-disc release features eight string concertos by Francesco Durante, plus one that’s never been recorded before.

Durante was a major figure in the early 18th Century. His music helped define the Neopolitan Galante Style. It was clean, clear, and relatively free of ornamentation.

For the most part, the concertos on this release follow the same pattern. The major key concertos have transparent textures, with light, tuneful melodies.

The minor concertos usually start with long, slow introductions. These introductions gradually build polyphonically before blossoming into fugues. The textures are thicker, giving them greater gravitas than the major key concertos.

Although there are large-scale patterns, each concerto has its own character. “La Pazzia” (Concerto No. 8 in A major) alternates tempos within the first movement. It gives the music a seeming spontaneity I didn’t hear in the other concertos.

The unnumbered Concerto in B-flat major seems a summation of Durante’s skill. The ensemble writing is quite complex. Melodies and rhythms take unexpected turns (compared to the numbered concertos).

The Ensemble Imaginaire number seven players. Their collective sound is full and lightweight. That lightness is just what Durante’s Galante works need.

Francesco Durante: Concertos for Strings
Ensemble Imaginaire; Cristina Corriei, conductor
Brilliant Classics 95542
2 CD Set