BACH: Brandenburg Concertos 1-6; Concerto in A minor – Duilio Glafetti, violin/ Thomas Mueller and Raul Diaz, natural horns/ Maurice Steger and Stefano Bet, recorders/ Emiliano Rodolfi, oboe/ Francesco Cera, hrpsd./ Diego Fasolis, cond. – Arts (2 discs)

by | Feb 5, 2007 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

BACH: Brandenburg Concertos 1-4, BWV 1046-1049 – Duilio Glafetti, violin/ Thomas Mueller and Raul Diaz, natural horns/ Maurice Steger and Stefano Bet, recorders/ Emiliano Rodolfi, oboe/ Gabriele Cassone, natural trumpet/ Francesco Cera, harpsichord/ Diego Fasolis, harpsichord and conductor – Arts Multichannel SACD 47715-8 51:56 (Distrib. Albany) ****:

BACH: Brandenburg Concertos No. 5 in Dm BWV 1050; Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B-flat Major, BWV 1051; Concerto in A Minor for Flute, Violin, and Cembalo, BWV 1044 – Duilio Galfetti violin/ Stefano Bet, flue/ Giovanni De Rosa, violin/ I Barocchisti/ Diego Fasolis, harpsichord and conductor – Arts Multichannel SACD 47716-8, 54:31 (Distrib. Albany) ****:

The authenticity movement has two peppy additions to the Bach legacy in this new set of Brandenburg Concertos from I Barocchisti, recorded in hi-res surround sound December 2004 and July 2005. The very opening of the F Major Concerto, with its corni da caccia (hunting horns), its flourishes in oboes and violin, and swooping attacks from the ripieno and harpsichord, make for a ceaseless brew of energized musical activity. The strong ties of the musical material to Cantata No. 208, the so-called Hunt Cantata, are well documented. The tempos tend to the brisk side, so even the Menuettos assume the character of hornpipes, close kin to those in Handel’s Water Music. The Polonaise gallops. The Trios seem to have been composed especially for the audiophile’s multichannel medium, the voices resonating everywhere.

The multifarious colors of the F Major Concerto, the high trumpet, flute, and violin riffs, engage us at every turn with sparkling invention. What busy sounds are these! The spare number of players increases the tonal clarity of the weaving of voices, the trumpet and harpsichord parts particularly exposed. Textures thin out even more in the Andante, with flute, oboe, violin, and basso continuo. Duilio Galfetti’s violin has a reedy, nasal tone. The four soli tear into their last movement Allegro with palpitating fervor. Foot-tapping is mandatory. The G Major, we know, is a perpetual motion machine for strings, the violins and violas prominent. The brisk pacing keeps the repeated figures cooking. A two chord caesura, then the Allegro gigue in relentless sixteenth notes, breathtaking. Brandenburg Four opens in 3/8 with glowing flutes and violin solo, a string orchestra and continuo and two recorders, most Arcadian. Even more bucolic is the lovely dialogue between soli and continuo in the Andante, a pastoral dream by Milton become wordless music. Etched, silken lines for the Presto (fugue), the violin and recorders in fearful symmetry. Violin and bass line make some shimmering effects before we are through. The sound is Venetian, and we can appreciate Bach’s application of Vivaldi’s musical finesse to his own needs at Coethen, whose court we enter the minute our surround speakers activate.

The outstanding harpsichord part for Brandenburg Five permits Diego Fasioli his more-than-fifteen minutes of fame; he has nineteen. Stefano Bet makes tender passes on the flute. The trills build up–bassi included–tenderly, always mounting inexorably to the 65 noble bars of harpsichord cadenza, at times a wicked toccata. The ritornello comes out of nowhere and everywhere. Only solo groups, no strings, for the demure Affetuoso, chamber music for the King’s supper. A jauntily fugal final Allegro ensues, and both soli and continuo dazzle us with the learned dance. Nymphs and shepherds, if you ask me. The B-flat Brandenburg No. 6 combines Italian trio-sonata and concerto, and the stars are the violas da gamba. The somber ritornello allows Cristiano Contadin and Vittorio Ghielmi to strut their skills with harpsichord Fasolis. The stately Allegro ma non tanto proceeds as a regal andante, rife with inner voicings and trills in the violas and violins. The last gigue exhibits a melancholy, determined energy, ornaments ad libitum. The tuttis pulsate with a dark energy, singularly vibrant.

We have as an encore piece Bach’s 1730s Concerto in A Minor, BWV 1044, which incorporates a slow movement from the organ sonata BWV 527. The dazzling variety of tone color attests to Bach’s sensitivity for orchestral timbre, his having taken his Weimar prelude and fugue for harpsichord (BWV 894) for his central materials. The harpsichord part demands an active pair of hands, easily comparable to the D Major Brandenburg Concerto. When the string continuo drops out, the violin, flute, and harpsichord make an elegant trio sonata. A pair of happy discs for the Bach audiophile, high flying in every bar.

— Gary Lemco

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