Notes and Editorial Reviews
Concerto in b for 4 Violins,
Concerto in g for 2 Cellos,
J. S. BACH
Concerto in a for 4 Harpsichords,
Concerto in d for 2 Violas da gamba,
class="ARIAL12"> Jeannette Sorrell, cond; Apollo’s Fire
AVIE AV2211 (74: 34)
The Cleveland-based Apollo’s Fire ensemble’s new disc is titled
Vivaldi and Friends
Vivaldi and Imitators or Admirers
might be more to the point since the disc includes music by two other composers: Bach’s transcription of the Vivaldi Concerto in B Minor for four violins, op. 3/10, which became his Concerto for Four Harpsichords; and the pseudonymous René Duchiffre’s recently written “Tango” Concerto in D Minor for Two Gambas.
Vivaldi’s own “La Follia” is here a concerto grosso arranged by Sorrell from Vivaldi’s op. 1/12 trio. The simple tune, which had been written down in Portugal as early as 1577, was monumentally popular in Vivaldi’s time and continued to be well-known for more than 100 years after that. The in B-Minor Concerto is a gem and it’s really wonderful to have it here in both the original form and in Bach’s transcription. It is not difficult to imagine the composer and three of his children performing it. Both versions are wonderfully played and it would be hard to choose one over the other. On a 1998 Virgin Veritas disc, Fabio Biondi and Europa Galante also play the original concerto for violins in a more virtuosic, less emotional version. Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert recorded the Bach treatment in 1981 and there is still a good bit to be said for its rerelease in 2002, but it is part of a set that contains the complete Bach harpsichord concertos.
“Summer” is drawn, of course, from Vivaldi’s
. We can hear it played much faster by Biondi and Europa Galante on a 2003 EMI disc. Itzhak Perlman plays it with considerable emotional punch as part of the entire
on a 2002 EMI disc, but he lacks the historical perspective of either Apollo’s Fire or Europa Galante.
Vivaldi wrote more than 20 cello concertos, but only one for two cellos and orchestra. Soloists René Schiffer and Susie Napper are fine virtuosi and play with opulent tone.
The last track is the most surprising. Cellist Schiffer, who uses the pen name René Duchiffre when he writes in historic style, has presented lovers of Baroque music with a Concerto in D Minor for Two Gambas. Here he plays with Ann Marie Morgan. He starts out as a rather heavy-footed follower of the Red Priest, but finishes with a true tango. The composer wanted to show that two of the instruments could hold their own against an orchestra, and he has definitely achieved his goal.
While “La Folia” was recorded live in a church in 2008, the other tracks were recorded at the same location in 2000 with no audience. While a slight difference in sound can be detected between the two sessions, the overall ambience is good. The instruments seem slightly farther away for the live performance, but I don’t find it a detriment to this wonderfully imaginative recording.
FANFARE: Maria Nockin
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