Classic Mornings

Bask in the Mask


They didn’t fool me for a moment. Not only have I heard them play over the years - when I heard that they were collaborating, I couldn’t wait to get hold of the recording for Classic Mornings listeners.

On the cover of their CD, which is titled simply: Italian Sonatas (Passacaille 1010), Duilio Galfetti and Luca Pianca are wearing masks that resemble those of the Italian commedia dell’arte of the 16th through 18th centuries. The two are unmasked on the cover of the booklet that accompanies the CD.

Galfetti is a Swiss-born violinist and member of the Lugano-based early music ensemble I Barocchisti.  He performs as a mandolinist as well. Luca Pianca, also from Switzerland, is a lute player (lutenist) and a member of the early music ensemble Il Giardino Armonico based in Milan, Italy. I should add that there’s an online reference to a Sting concert in which Pianca participated. And while chatting with him when his ensemble was in town years ago, he shared his enthusiasm for Eric Clapton. 

Well, here they are, unplugged, you might say, from their usual ensembles to perform together. The recording features works of composers whose names may not connect with even long-time classical music listeners: Franceso Piccone, Carlo Arrigoni and Giovanni Battista Gervasio. But the mandolin has an inviting sound. So here’s an opportunity to hear even more works that make use of that sound accompanied by the sound of the lute. It’s music from the time of Vivaldi, whose works for the mandolin have been audience favorites. I’m excited that several sonatas on the recording by the masked musicians from Switzerland will be a part of Classic Mornings – and already have been!

There’s a photograph of pianist Oliver Cavé wearing a mask on the back cover of a CD he recorded some 9 years ago.  Cavé is no stranger to us any more. Last year we were introduced to the Swiss pianist from what was then a new recording of music by Domenico Scarlatti and Franz Joseph Haydn.  I recently re-introduced Cavé with the earlier recording.  It’s an all-Scarlatti CD which just came into the Friends of WILL Library (Aeon 874).  

The cover photos on the the newly-acquired recordings made me think about what must seem like endless masks of sorts in classical music.  There are so many names: composers, performers, pieces of music, and identifying information. So much of it’s in a variety of languages. But behind all of that is some of the most enjoyable music that listeners may ever discover. Those who slowly have worked their way through some of the masking might even admit that the masks themselves can be somewhat fun when they begin to toss around names like Albéniz, Boccherini and Couperin or words like andante, barcarolle and capriccio in conversation.

Masks are not just for concealing identities.  They help performers to step into a character.  Classical musicians slip into the “masks” of performance practices of earlier eras when they attempt to play music in the way that the composers intended it to be played.  Maybe it’s just as well that the identities of the players are somewhat overshadowed by the character of the music. Yet it’s both that we celebrate: the music of the composers and the individual interpretations of the players.  It’s the same as in stage works in which character and actor come together.

The choice is yours. You may bask in the mask or simply enjoy what’s behind them. On WILL-FM, you have the opportunity to do both.  Listener support has made that possible. Speaking of which, we’re approaching the end of our fiscal year on June 30th. By then all of the money for next year’s programs has to be in the bank. Please consider making a gift in support of the classical music on FM 90.9.  Call 217-244-0025 or log onto with your gift. If you have made a contribution, thank you for your support!