Notes and Editorial Reviews
OMBRA E LUCE: Modena 1665
Georg Kallweit (vn); Björn Colell (thb/gtr)
RAUMKLANG 2905 (63:42)
UCCELLINI, CAZZATI, COLOMBI, VITALI, BONONCINI, RONCALLI, CORELLI, FERRARI
Ombra e Luce presents its collection of music by composers either active in or influencing the Modenese court in the middle of the 17th century with violin supported by either theorbo or Baroque guitar; the performers have arranged some of the works for this combination of
instruments from other settings, instrumental or vocal.
The program opens with Marco Uccellini’s violin sonata “La Luciminia contenta” (Venice, 1645), in which Georg Kallweit and Björn Colell run the gamut from pathetic sighing in the opening through hair-raising, breathless barrages of rapid notes. If the Baroque began with an exploration of relatively outré expressive manners, Uccellini’s sonata and Ombra e Luce’s performance both embody the new ideal, as well as showcasing a style of violin playing as flamboyant and richly imaginative as Antonio Vivaldi’s. The ensemble seems equally comfortable with the more straightforward yet cheerfully playful rhetoric of Maurizio Cazzati’s sonata “La Calva” (Venice, 1648). They continue by loosely stringing together four pieces from Uccellini’s op. 4, the larger publication from which they drew the sonata: three arias (the second of these sensitively expressive) interrupted by a bracing
. They follow this with three movements from Giuseppe Colombi’s
Libero secondo a Violino e Basso
: an Adagio (actually a compound fast-slow movement) and two untitled dancelike pieces.
Their selection from
Partite sopra diverse Sonate Per il Violino solo
by Giovanni Battista Vitali begins with a Toccata that explores what must have been violinistic high adventure, followed by a solo
Capriccio di Tromba
, showcasing horn fifths recalling those that Heinrich Biber employed in his “Ascension” Sonata. The ensuing
(played solo) shows that Germans like Biber and Johann Paul von Westhoff weren’t the only ones exploring the unaccompanied violin’s polyphonic capabilities. Kallweit’s snapping bow stroke maintains a lively interest. He’s joined in the concluding
by Colell, who mentions in his booklet note that these movements by Vitali had no written bass parts; the period’s counterpart of the luxuriant growth he weaves around the violin part in the
would likely have occurred to a performer of the time because of the familiarity of this popular ground bass.
Kallweit and Colell introduce a wide range of contrasting
into the selections from the works of Giovanni Maria Bononcini (Bergamo, 1671), an Aria “La Pozza,” a Corrente “La Pegolotta,” an Allemanda “La Fogliana,” and a Corrente “La Montanara.” At times, as in the Allemanda, the duo takes advantage of the contrapuntal dialogue that arises between the parts.
Colell plays a suite of brief dances (Preludio, Allemanda, Corrente, Sarabanda, and Gigua) from Ludovico Roncalli’s
Capricci Armonici sopra la chitarra spagnola
(Bergamo, 1692) alone on guitar before Kallweit returns for the sixth sonata of Arcangelo Corelli’s epoch-making op. 5. In this sonata, the contrast between Kallweit”s idea of period performance and those of aficionados of synthetic strings and the enhanced resonances of the post-Baroque violin shows itself, not only in the opening Grave, in which he melds sensibility and free-flowing virtuosic ornamentation, but also in the more overtly technical and contrapuntal feats of the fugal Allegro that follows. Only in the Adagio does slow-motion sensibility threaten to overtake sense. The program concludes with a transcription of a Ciacona from Benedetto Ferrari”s
Musiche varie a voce solo
(Venice, 1637) that showcases virtuosic display by both performers.
Although Kallweit plays a period instrument, the sound he draws from it has little in common with the whining and wheezing that used to characterize such performances; his tone remains clear and trumpet-like throughout; on the other hand, his brisk articulation sounds well suited to the music. Colell switches back and forth between theorbo and Baroque guitar, providing fanciful support. The recorded sound presents both instruments close up (occasionally with extraneous noise and breathing) and without the kind of reverberation that most listeners would find excessive. Those who wish to explore this repertoire should find in Ombre e Luce both authoritative and personable guides. Warmly recommended.
FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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