The violin wizard Enrico Onofri returns to Wratislavia Cantans, and he won the audience's hearts three years ago. Also this time, he will perform with his Imaginarium Ensemble, whose members are experts in the field of Italian Baroque music. The group will allow us to take a look at the life of a Wrocław violinist in the 17th century – we listen to hear sworks that were popular at that time, we will see what virtuosity and improvisation skills were required of the soloists.
The artistic director of the festival, Giovanni Antonini, is very keen to present compositions from the unique collections of the Wrocław University Library each year. This time, the main theme of the concert will be the so-called manuscript from Breslau – research on it has recently electrified the world of early music. The history of music manuscripts from the Wrocław library is as complicated as the history of Poland and Europe, especially in the 20th century. The title of the concert refers to the treasures of the University Library ‘On the Sand’, which took over the collections (including manuscripts and historical prints) of the pre-war Staats-und Universitätsbibliothek. However, the manuscript from Breslau is not to be found in the ‘On the Sand’ Library. Priceless collections due to the threat of allied air raids were from 1942 evacuated to provincial libraries all over Lower Silesia. After the war, the collection, known under the catalogue number Slg Bohn Mus. ms. 114, was found by the Red Army and taken to Moscow, and from there to the library in East Berlin, and it is still today in the already united Berlin. However, all this happened in secret: because of the political turmoil of the Cold War, finding collections from Wrocław remained a secret, so until the year 1990, the treasures of Baroque music were considered lost forever. In the manuscript Slg Bohn Mus. ms. 114, we find all the important musical genres that violinists could turn their attention to in the 17th century: dances, variations, sonataa, canzonas and, above all, forty six musically rich works called ricercar, fantasy, and toccata. This gives a much fuller picture of the professional practice of violinists than the well-known old prints suggest, hence the special value of the Wroclaw collections. They are like a private anthology of music rewritten hurriedly (as the graphologists argue) from the then widely circulated Italian publications and manuscripts from Germany and Italy.
The composition of France’s Stephen Nau is the most ingenious of many fantasies in the collection. The Italian Biagio Marini, one of the first professional violin virtuosos, lived for many years in Germany, so it is no wonder that his works could be heard in Wrocław. The work of the Spanish bassoonist Bartolomé de Selma y Salaverde is known only from one preserved book, but we know about his connections with the Polish-Swedish court of the Vasa family. Dario Castello, from a Venetian musical dynasty, may seem the most known to us today. He was also popular during his lifetime thanks to technically demanding, but hugely fascinating sonatas, at that time already published across Europe. Today, we can again enjoy this multicultural heritage in Wrocław. Enthusiastic artists and musicologists have extracted valuable compositions not so much from the library dust as from the political and historical layers of the past. We invite you to a concert of delightful Baroque music, which – as it was centuries ago – brings together people of different nationalities.