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BACH: Violin Concertos = Violin Concerto in A Minor. BWV 1041; Violin Concerto in E Major; Concerto in D Minor for Two Violins; Violin Concerto in G Minor; Violin Concerto in D Minor – Giuliano Carmignola, v./ Mayumi Hirasaki, v./ Concerto Cologne – Archiv

BACH: Violin Concertos = Violin Concerto in A Minor. BWV 1041; Violin Concerto in E Major, BWV 1042; Concerto in D Minor for Two Violins, BWV 1043; Violin Concerto in G Minor, BWV 1056R; Violin Concerto in D Minor, BWV 1052R – Giuliano Carmignola, v./ Mayumi Hirasaki, v./ Concerto Cologne – Archiv 479 2695, 73:44 [Distr. by Universal] *****:

What a splendid musical gambit: performing Bach in a thoroughly Italian style! Violinist Giuliano Carmignola confesses to having in his youth loved Isaac Srern and David Oistrakh in collaboration on Bach and Vivaldi, adding his trained instincts gleaned from his teacher Luigi Enrico Ferro of the Virtuoso di Roma in its glory days under Renato Fasano. Carmignola, too, performed with the Virtuoso di Roma until 1978. Here, he collaborates (rec. July 2013) with the notable Concerto Köln, that most prestigious ensemble, founded in 1985, dedicated to performance on original instruments. Together, they forge plastic and often fast-paced realizations of the Bach violin works – whether authentic or reconstructed, since only three of the original eight have come down to us – that paves a middle ground in the approximation of the Baroque style.

Born in Treviso, where the Vivaldi renaissance started 50 years ago, Giuliano Carmignola began his violin studies with his father. His first teacher at the Venice Conservatory, Luigi Ferro, was a soloist with the Scuola Veneziana Orchestra (created in 1947 by Angelo Ephrikian to perform Vivaldi’s music) and later played with the Virtuosi di Roma, with whom Carmignola was in turn to appear as a soloist from 1970 to 1978, while succeeding Ferro as a teacher in Venice. Carmignola’s career was launched at the beginning of the 1970s with his successes in national and international competitions. Having attended master classes with Nathan Milstein, Franco Gulli and Henryk Szeryng, he went on to perform the major violin works of the 19th and 20th centuries under conductors of the stature of Claudio Abbado, Eliahu Inbal, Peter Maag and Giuseppe Sinopoli, including giving the Italian premiere of Henri Dutilleux’s Violin Concerto. Carmignola plays a wicked, rasping Florenus Guidantus instrument from Bolgna, 1739.

The A Minor Concerto, BWV 1041 is the first recipent of the glories of the Venetian sound through which it passes, a concept fleet and rhythmically buoyant in the outer movements and seductively impassioned in the Andante. The dance charsacter of the outer movements benefits from the startling attacks and rhyhmic inflections Carmignola imposes on the fluid lines. The continuo harpsichord, performed by Gianluca Capuano, proves no less significant in these happy realizations. The E Major Concerto sheds all heaviness from its opening Allegro and becomes a suave forerunner of the Viotti style. Carmignola pushes the tempo and violin figuarations with seamless urgency, adding a roulade, shortening or extending the note values, or inserting a grace note group ad libitum. Concerto Köln leader Mayumi Hirasaki, a former pupil of Carmignola in Lucerne, assumes the first violin part for the ubiquitous Double Concerto in D Minor.  The pure hustle of the performance, in conjunction with the suave integration of bowing strokes and articulated syncopes, should convince an auditor of the canny verve of this Italian perspective.

The last two of the concertos, those in G Minor and D Minor, respectively, have been reconstructed from oboe or harpsichord originals by Marco Serino, who deems his efforts entirely within accepted Baroque practice, which lay in direct transcription of other masters’ works. Besides the exquisite Largo for viiolin cantilena, plucked strings and harpsichord continuo, BWV 1056, we find the D Minor Concerto, BWV 1052 suits its violin realization with an authority that Vivaldi in a tempestuous mood would entirely endorse. We must concur that Maestro Carmignola and his splendid associates have helped music lovers to enjoy „a fresh light emanating from within this wonderful music.“

A sterling sonic image enhances this fine disc, courtesy of engineers Henrik Manook and Jutta Stein.

—Gary Lemco

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