GRAMOPHONE AWARDS SHORTLIST 2014
performances, the violone provides a distinctively resonating bass without doubling the octave, and thereby establishes a unique registral clarity.
Compared to Kuijken’s relatively unwieldy version from 1982, a mesmerising purpose, natural balance and transparency of sound bring these works alive with quite remarkable results. Jonathan Freeman‑Attwood Selected comparison: Petite Bande, Kuijken, r1982 (12/82R) (DHM) 88697 68385-2
Corelli ‘The Complete Concerti grossi’ Twelve Concerti grossi, Op 6. Sinfonia, WoO1. Sonata a quattro, WoO2 Gli Incogniti / Amandine Beyer vn Zig-Zag Territoires M b ZZT327 (145’ • DDD) Recorded live at the Arsenal, Metz, February 10 & 11, 2012
Gli Incogniti and Amandine Beyer have made significant ripples on the Baroque orchestral scene with their flamboyant and refreshing style, and now turn their attention to Corelli’s concerti grossi. Perfected over a number of years and prepared for publication by Corelli shortly prior to his death, Op 6 was eventually printed under the supervision of his partner and heir Matteo Fornari in 1714. This recording titled ‘The Complete Concerti grossi’ also presents two other works: a posthumously published sonata in four parts in G minor that lends itself to either chamber or orchestral forces, and the sinfonia Corelli provided for Lulier’s 1689 oratorio Santa Beatrice d’Este, some of which Corelli adapted into Op 6 No 6.
Beyer observes that the sizes and constitutions of Corelli’s orchestras in Rome varied between 10 and 100 players depending on the circumstances (we know that the orchestra for Santa Beatrice d’Este numbered 80). Gli Incogniti’s ensemble of 18 musicians is typical for most periodinstrument recordings of Op 6, and, as with other classy interpretations in the distinguished discography (too many to mention here), they confirm that Corelli’s mastery over concertino and ripieno textures unlocks a kaleidoscope of sonorities and moods. There is carefree elation in the concertino exchanges in the first and last Allegros of No 4 (perhaps a bit too fast but never abrasive), and sincere yearning in the Largo of No 6 (labelled incorrectly as No 5 in the booklet). The concertino violins and cello sparkle with conversational animation in quick music (the scurrying cello lines are placed centre stage in the Allemandes of Nos 9 and 11), and slow movements are always enriched by immaculately balanced suspensions and gorgeously firm bass notes (the Grave of No 3). The ‘Christmas Concerto’ (No 8) typifies how Gli Incogniti paint a chiaroscuro of muscular zestiness (the penultimate Vivace), melancholic sublimity (the heartfelt Adagio) and refinement (the sweetly contoured emulation of shepherds’ zampognari in the Pastorale). Entirely devoid of contrived preciousness or formulaic complacency, this is simply magnificent. David Vickers
‘Sacro-Profanus’ Sacro-profanus concentus musicus – Sonatas III‑IX. Al giorno delle correggie. Fechtschule. Polnische Sackpfeiffen. Lamento sopra la morte Ferdinandi III Ensemble Masques / Olivier Fortin hpd Zig-Zag Territoires F ZZT334 (54’ • DDD)
Johann Heinrich Schmelzer (c1620/23-1680) spent most of his career occupying prestigious appointments at the Viennese court of Emperor Leopold I. In his dedication to Sacro-profanus concentus musicus (1662) the composer stated that ‘this Sacred-Profane Musical Concord…may serve both the pious veneration of the saints and the honest pleasure of mankind, both to arouse piety in church and to refresh the human spirit outside it’. The book contains 13 sonatas that range in scale from two up to eight instruments; Ensembles Masques present seven sonatas in five or six parts. The ascending cadences that commence Sonata III are an example of the six-part string textures played exquisitely by fiddlers Sophie Gent and Tuomo Suni, viola players Kathleen Kajioka and Simon Heyerick, gambist Mélisande Corriveau and violone player Benoît Vanden Bemden. Their performances apply conversational sophistication to contrapuntal intricacy, nowhere more so than in the softly rapturous slow passages during Sonata IX.
Schmelzer’s diversity and imagination are revealed in a variety of other pieces such as the elegaic Lamento sopra la morte Ferdinandi III (1657; his earliest and probably most often recorded piece), the short ballet Die Fechtschule (1668; in which there is battaglia-style imitation of clashing of swords at a fencing school), an evocation of Polish bagpipes playing folk music in Polnische Sackpfeiffen (1665) and a not-so-
subtle splash of humour from rumbling bassoon interruptions during a five-part sonata Al giorno delle correggie (1676) that alludes to the after-effect of eating a lot of beans. These outstanding performances are by turns beguiling and entertaining. David Vickers
Telemann ‘Ouvertures à 8’ Ouvertures, TWV55 – B10; d3; D15 Ensemble Zefiro / Alfredo Bernardini Arcana F A371 (74’ • DDD)
Having been warmly reviewed in these pages as recently as the November issue,
Ensemble Zefiro would seem at the top of their game, because their performances in this selection of three of Telemann’s virtuoso Ouvertures is hardly less dazzling than their Vivaldi bassoon concertos. When in 1992 Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert recorded a slightly different threesome (Archiv, 6/93 – only the B flat major is common to both), they relied on a larger ripieno ensemble that could easily hold its own against the oboes and bassoon. Times have changed and tastes evolved. The much-vaunted lean muscularity of the Ensemble Zefiro performances favours the wind instruments and, when joined with one-to-a-part strings, produces a freshly balanced sonority that alters our experience of these works.
Of course, Telemann deserves credit for devising endlessly clever ways of setting them against one another. The D major Ouverture is topped and tailed with little Brandenburgian trumpet-like interjections by the oboes, and in between there is a wonderfully hectic Harlequinade, deftly punctuated with hilariously bombastic tuttis. In the D minor Ouverture, Alberto Grazzi produces ravishing pedal tones on his bassoon that assume more importance than they might have done in the past. Elsewhere winds and strings are contrasted in snatches of dialogue, antiphony and echo, and enhanced by the dramatic use of silence (listen, for example, to the Gavotte, Air and Canaries). The B flat major contains equally memorable moments, such as the elegantly phrased Rondeau, the crisply syncopated Hornepipe, the concerto-ish Plainte and the Vivaldian Combattans, complete with tremolo strings. Special praise is due to the superb, unstinting continuo players. Thrilling! Julie Anne Sadie gramophone.co.uk gramophone.co.uk
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