Notes and Editorial Reviews
Concerto in F for 2 Organs,
Organ Concerto in d,
Organ Concerto in G,
(trans. J.S. Bach).
Organ Concerto in F,
Organ Concerto in E,
(trans. J.S. Bach).
Concerto in g for 2 Organs,
(trans. Edoardo Maria
Francesco Fanna, cond; Margherita Gianola (org); Silvio Celeghin (org); Luca Mares (vn); Matteo Marzaro (vn); Accademia di San Rocco (period instruments)
STRADIVARIUS 33951 (57:42)
This collection of Vivaldi concertos is oddly, yet somehow (perhaps by accident) correctly, titled “Concerto for Two Organs.” Note the appearance of the word “concerto” in the singular, for the only work on the disc by Vivaldi that actually calls for two organs is the first one on deck, the Concerto in F Major, RV 584, and it’s incomplete, consisting of but a single movement. It’s a double concerto for two string orchestras, featuring a solo organ and a solo violin in each of the stereophonically opposed bands. The only other two-organ concerto on the program is a transcription of Vivaldi’s Flute Concerto in G Minor, RV 439, popularly known as “La notte,” the second number in the composer’s set of six flute concertos, op. 10.
The Concerto in D Minor, RV 541, is a single-orchestra concerto, featuring as soloists a single organ and a single violin; whereas its next-door RV neighbor, the identically scored Concerto in F Major, RV 542, is now considered to be of doubtful authenticity.
That leaves the two Bach transcriptions, RV 299 and RV 265. But here conductor Francesco Fanna has made another unusual choice, for neither of these scores is among the three Vivaldi concertos that Bach specifically transcribed for solo organ, which are as follows:
(1) Vivaldi Concerto in A Minor for 2 Violins, RV 522 - Bach Organ Concerto in A Minor, BWV 593
(2) Vivaldi Violin Concerto in D Major, RV 208 - Bach Organ Concerto in C Major, BWV 594
(3) Vivaldi Concerto if D Minor for 2 Violins and Cello, RV 565 - Bach Organ Concerto in D Minor, BWV 596
Instead, the two Bach-transcribed Vivaldi concertos Fanna gives us come from a series of 16 concertos, BWV 972–987 that Bach arranged for solo keyboard from works by various composers—Vivaldi, Marcello, Telemann, and Johann Ernst of Saxe-Weimar. The keyboard in these cases is generally believed to have been harpsichord, not organ, though they have been played on organ before, and there’s no reason they can’t or shouldn’t be.
(1) Vivaldi Violin Concerto in G Major, RV 299 - Bach Keyboard Concerto in D Major, BWV 972
(2) Vivaldi Violin Concerto in E Major, RV 265 (No. 12 from
, op. 3) - Bach Keyboard Concerto in C Major, BWV 976
Not counting the two violin soloists credited in the headnote, the Accademia di San Rocco is composed of 11 players: two firsts, two seconds, two violas, two cellos, two double basses, and one lute. It’s not exactly one to a part, but only two players on each of the two violin parts doesn’t feel like quite enough on top to balance the lower strings. That’s about the only criticism I have of this otherwise well-played program.
Thankfully, we seem to have moved on from the ill-conceived fad favored by a number of revisionist and interventionist period instrument ensembles that subjected the music of Vivaldi and other Baroque composers to linear-accelerator speeds, kinky embellishments, quirky dynamics, and bizarre bowing techniques. Francesco Fanna leads the Accademia di San Rocco in performances that are quite moderate in tempo, which I suspect is in part a concession to the slower-speaking organs and the natural acoustic reverb of Venice’s Basilica dei Frari, where the recording was made. Yet, he draws playing from the ensemble that pulses with high spirits in Vivaldi’s always lively and vigorous fast movements, and that sings with refined beauty in the composer’s cantilenas.
Even though only three of the six concertos on the disc were originally scored for organ—and one of those is incomplete, while another is of possibly spurious attribution—all six concertos are effective and completely enjoyable in these settings. Recommended.
FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
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