‘Priest-composer stabs alto castrato during Mass!’ Such fervent Catholicism is hardly imaginable nowadays. The present recording will remedy that: the Austian violinist Gunar Letzbor revives the strange work of murderer-composer Antonio Pandolfi Mealli with a full-blooded performance that succeeds in captivating us from beginning to end.'
Eberhard Zummach, Concerto. Das Magazin für Alte Musik no. 214
Two years after the highly acclaimed recording of Giovanni Antonio Pandolfi Mealli’s Opus 4, Gunar Letzbor returns with the Tuscan composer’s Opus 3, published in Innsbruck in 1660 and dedicated to his compatriot, the reigning archduchess Anna De’ Medici (featured on the front cover).
The liner notes, by Fabrizio Longo (recognised as the most authoritative Pandolfi scholar) retrace the episodes in this composer’s very eventful life. He was born in Montepulciano (Tuscany), then already famous for its red wine, but his family soon moved to Venice. Antonio, like many other Tuscan composers, joined the service of Anna de’ Medici in Innsbruck. Later we find him as a violinist with the cathedral chapel in Messina (Sicily) and it was in there that he murdered the Roman castrato Giovanni Marquett, before fleeing to France, and then to Spain. In Madrid he entered the service of the Spanish Habsburgs, where he remained for the rest of his life.