01 Dall AbacoDall’Abaco and the Art of Variation
Elinor Frey; Accademia De’Dissonanti
Passacaille 1141 (passacaille.be)

While the term “supergroup” is usually applied to bands like The Traveling Wilburys and Temple of the Dog, the term also suits the Accademia de’ Dissonanti, composed of members who are each gifted performers in their own right and come together to make consistently stunning recordings.

This disc features music by Giuseppe Clemente Dall’Abaco (1710-1805), and is the premiere recording of his two cello trios and three cello sonatas. If the name is unfamiliar, that is because Dall’Abaco’s compositions are relatively new to modern audiences: The musical output of this cellist-composer has only emerged in recent decades, and its craftsmanship and charm have won over both performers and listeners alike. 

Born in Brussels, Dall’Abaco spent the majority of his childhood at the Bavarian court in Munich, where his father, composer Evaristo Felice Dall’Abaco, was employed as Kapellmeister. Throughout the 1730s and 1740s, the cellist’s reputation grew as he began to travel and perform in important European cities such as London, York, Paris and Vienna, eventually becoming renowned as Europe’s most gifted cellist.

Featuring the equally gifted (and very much alive) cellists Octavie Dostaler-Lalonde, Elinor Frey and Eva Lymenstull, as well as harpsichordist Federica Bianchi and theorbist Michele Pasotti, each work on this recording is a delight to listen to. The cello trios are rich and complex, with intertwining melodic lines and timbral blends that create fascinating polyphonic effects. The cello sonatas, with variations composed by Elinor Frey, are grin-inducing in their joviality, but never superficial.

This recording is a revelatory introduction to one of history’s “newest” composers, and a welcome return to the masterful musicians that make up early music’s own supergroup, the Accademia de’ Dissonanti.

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