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Vivaldi & Bach For Recorders / Quartetto Icarus


Release Date: 12/21/2010 
Label:  Dynamic   Catalog #: 667  
Composer:  Johann Sebastian BachAntonio Vivaldi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Icarus Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



VIVALDI AND BACH FOR RECORDER Quartetto Icarus DYNAMIC CDS 667 (55:00)


All the pieces on this program are arrangements and transcriptions for recorder quartet—and in three cases, transcriptions of transcriptions—of concertos and other music by Vivaldi and Bach. The usual raison d’être in the case of these two composers is that they themselves transcribed their own and others’ works and are, thus, fair game themselves, and that is the operative rationale here. There is a body of Read more work explicitly for recorder ensembles, most of it written to help foster the revival of interest in the instrument from the middle years of the last century. There is also the considerable body of recent music written for the Amsterdam Loeki Stardust Quartet (still very much in business after 30 years). If the ensemble in question is a quartet of recorders, played by specialists in early music, however, the pickings are slim, indeed.


For the record, the transcriptions here are of Vivaldi RV 153, 157, and 443, and Bach BWV 596 (from RV 565), 593 (from RV 522), 595 (from a concerto by Bach’s pupil Johann-Ernst of Sachsen-Weimar), and of contrapuncti 1, 3, and 9 from The Art of Fugue . The Vivaldi pieces are string concertos; the Bach pieces are all for organ, except for the three late fugues, whose scoring is, of course, open. The issue at hand here is not how well, or even whether or not, these transcriptions and arrangements represent or tell us something about Vivaldi and Bach. One can easily imagine far deeper and more radical inroads into these pieces. The issue, it seems to me, is, given this approach to making this music, is the result musical, and the answer is, generally, yes.


On the face of it, one would expect the Bach pieces to come off best, derived as they are from organ works. They are played in the best modern detached style and at attractively lively tempos. What one misses, however, is the wonderful fullness of the pedal, something the Loeki Stardust solved with Friedrich von Huene’s invention of contrabass and sub-contrabass recorders. Alas, one also misses the variety of color an organ offers. The ensemble sounds best in the contrapuncti and in the transcriptions from Vivaldi, all anonymous, save for Bertho Driever’s of RV 443, made originally for Loeki Stardust.


The recording has good sound; it is recorded quite close up, however, so the listener is treated to occasional key-slaps and quick breaths. There are no musicological revelations here; the playing is fine and straightforward. There is little direct competition for this program, save for BWV 596 and the three contrapuncti, which the Loeki quartet has recorded for Channel Classics.


FANFARE: Alan Swanson
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Works on This Recording

1.
The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Icarus Quartet
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1745-1750; Leipzig, Germany 
2.
Concerto for Organ solo in A minor, BWV 593 (after Vivaldi) by Johann Sebastian Bach
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Icarus Quartet
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; Weimar, Germany 
3.
Concerto for Organ solo in C major, BWV 595 (after Duke Johann Ernst of Saxe-Weimar) by Johann Sebastian Bach
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Icarus Quartet
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; Weimar, Germany 
4.
Concerto for Organ in D minor, BWV 596 (after Vivaldi) by Johann Sebastian Bach
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Icarus Quartet
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; Weimar, Germany 
5.
Concerto for Strings in G minor, RV 157 by Antonio Vivaldi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Icarus Quartet
Period: Baroque 
Written: Venice, Italy 
6.
Concerto for 2 Violins in A minor, Op. 3 no 8/RV 522 by Antonio Vivaldi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Icarus Quartet
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1711; Venice, Italy 
7.
Concerto for 2 Violins and Cello in D minor, Op. 3 no 11/RV 565 by Antonio Vivaldi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Icarus Quartet
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1711; Venice, Italy 
8.
Concerto for Piccolo in C major, RV 443 by Antonio Vivaldi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Icarus Quartet
Period: Baroque 
Written: Venice, Italy 
9.
Concerto for Strings in G minor, RV 153 by Antonio Vivaldi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Icarus Quartet
Period: Baroque 
Written: Venice, Italy 

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