A masterful musician who detested performing publicly, Nicola Matteis was an Italian-born violinist, guitarist and composer who spent much of his career in England. While we don’t have many hard facts about his life (we don’t even know his precise birth or death dates) we do know that Matteis had a reputation for being an arrogant and “inexpugnably proud” man who would only stoop to giving public concerts when his finances demanded it.
Importing an Italian performance style, Matteis became a key figure in the development of violin playing in England and his compositions displayed a variety of bowings that exceeded any found in English music up to that point. Matteis’ major contribution to the literature was four books of Ayres for the Violin, published between 1676 and 1687. Today, we will hear two movements from his Suite in d minor from Book Four of that work, performed by The Wayward Sisters. First is a melancholic adagio marked “A Grave Thing”. This is followed by a dancelike “Ground with Several Divisions”.
The Wayward Sisters:
Beth Wenstrom-baroque violin
Anna Steinhoff-baroque cello
Podcast produced by Joshua Sauvageau