A colourful figure in late 17th-century Italy, Carlo Ambrogio Lonati sang comic roles in Cavalli operas, was perhaps the lover of Stradella (possibly involved in his murder), and earned the nickname of “the Queen’s hunchback” while a violinist in the service of Queen Christina of Sweden. These violin sonatas, published in Salzburg in 1701, are old-fashioned for their date but are full of invention: they look back to Biber in their unusual tuning of the violin strings; the first rises over an unearthly single note, and the last of the four is a lively chaconne with endless variants over a four-bar theme. Fine, vigorous playing from Gunar Letzbor.
Nicholas Kenyon is managing director of the Barbican Centre and was director of the BBC Proms from 1996 to 2007. He wrote the Faber Pocket Guide to Mozart