The Italian Farina was born around the turn of the century in Mantua and died in 1640, spending his career in Italy and Dresden. All of his works were published in Dresden, within the bounds of a few years. He rubbed shoulders with Monteverdi and Schütz. He is remembered today primarily for his piece entitled Capriccio Stravagante, a work for violins and string ensemble. It is unique due to its use of instrumental noises, programmatic in nature. In short order, he offers us the sounds of cats, spanish guitar, and barking dogs. His music, then, is representative of the blooming of the spotlight the violin would cast during the 17th century. **Farina: Capriccio Stravagante e nuove pavane, gagliarde, correnti e arie francesia a quattro voci Accademia Strumentale Italiana / Rasi (p)1995 Stradivarius Dulcimer** The Italian Instrumental Academy leads us through many unknown works of Farina, mainly dances from a 1627 collection published in Dresden. The works are expressive to a point, melody and accompaniment style. The violin has the chance to dance about the line, but these are no solo works. They remind me, anyhow, of the type of little instrumental dances we might hear in one of Monteverdi's operas, together with harpsichord and lute. Probably celebrated in its own time, as much or more so than today, the famous Capriccio Stravagante is heard here with a very light zestyness. It always surprises me when listening to different performances how the movements of this work appear in different order, and in some cases, we never get "all the movements." Along with the opening sonata, we get most of the movements here. The tempos are never extreme, and the group is lead by the violinist with a lean tone, but never strident or overpowering. Compared to other ensembles, at times this lacks some zest or improvisational luster. Nevertheless, we get a just account of this famous work, along with the mostly unknown dance numbers. This performance certainly holds its own against others; my only wish was for a jolt of speed here or there, yet I like the rustic appeal the ensemble conveys. As a representative disk of Farina, the composer, this CD translates into an excellent passport. Farina's extrovert side is represented, along with his more conservative side.