His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts
Dario Castello remains one of the most mysterious of composers: beyond a couple of references to his name on the title pages to his published works there is no record of his life; it has even been suggested—albeit inconclusively—that the name is an anagram. Yet his music offers clear testimony to his creative skills. The 1621 volume, which comprises twelve works, presents the first ever collection devoted entirely to instrumental sonatas; likewise, the seventeen pieces published in 1629 are also exclusively sonatas. Castello takes elements of the traditional multi-voiced Venetian canzona, not least passages of virtuoso solo writing and of concertante exchanges between several players, and successfully introduces them into extended works.
Much more is known of the life of Giovanni Picchi. He was a fine harpsichordist, organist of several Venetian churches and institutions, and a noted performer and composer of dance music. The works on this recording are as innovative and varied as this heritage would suggest.