GIOVANNI BENEDETTO PLATTI: Antologia – Pratum Integrum Orchestra/ Alfredo Bernardini – Caro Mitis Multichannel SACD, CM 0052006, 69:39; Performance ***** Sound ***** [Distr. by Albany]:
I must confess I never heard even in passing of this obviously now forgotten composer. Giovanni Benedetto Platti (ca. 1697-1763) was born in Venice (or Parma?) but in 1722 we find him in the city of Würzburg in the Franconia region of Bavaria, Germany. Having been hired as an expert oboist by the local Prince-archbishop Johann Philipp Franz von Schönborn he stayed put there for the rest of his life. His composition’s manuscripts are preserved in the Wiesentheid (Bavaria) collection and other libraries in Berlin, Dresden and Munich. The Pratum Integrum Orchestra was founded in Moscow, Russia in 2003; they perform on original and/or replicas of period instruments. This recording was made on June of 2006 in the studios of the Russian Television and Broadcasting Company in Moscow.
On listening for the first time to Platti’s chamber music I find it very attractive and insightful, full of warm melodies especially in the middle movements of his concertos, and ranging widely in their spirit/attitude and moods. These concertos are structurally well balanced and always observing Baroque’s very well known three parts format that Vivaldi and Hasse amongst many others practiced. In general Platti’s format is Allegro – Andante/Adagio/Largo/Lento – Allegretto, which later would wrongly be known as the Viotti-Mozart model.
Platti’s music seems to have been influenced by the likes of Corelli and Tartini, both of them violin virtuosos, and Platti was a violinist beside being and oboist. This felicitous influence can be readily heard through his concerto for violin and orchestra (Tracks 8-10) and specifically T-9, and Adagio. Just as well we cannot escape noticing how close his trio sonata for violin, violoncello and basso continuo is to Haydn’s music without making a literal copy of it. The musical structure of this sonata is close to Haydn’s (see Tracks 14-17) especially in T-15, an Allegro.
Finally, in Tracks 4-6 we can hear Mozart before he (Mozart) actually composed anything as far as we know. It is obvious that Platti’s music had progressed through many transformations to enter into the Classic realm around 1750-60. This concerto for harpsichord and orchestra is absolutely sublime in its almost primitive rhythms with unadorned harmonies and the natural beauty of its melodies. They are all noted for their dynamic vitality especially in the Siciliano of T-5. Platti’s harpsichord concerto predates Mozart by a good many years and what a revelation it is! My only caveat is that the harpsichord sounds more like an spinet than a harpsichord with its very light tone, but that is the performer’s choice. Indeed, I would have like it better with the sound of a heavier instrument.
This five-channel SACD sound is very good indeed; the sound is in the front speakers without any intrusive or extreme instrument imaging. All I can say is that the sound is up front, very clear and transparent as it befits to the quality of the microphones employed in the recording, namely: Neumann km130; DPA (B&K) 4006 and 4011, and SCHOEPS mk2S and mk41. The rear speakers in this SACD recording carry a modicum of acoustics but no more. All in all a well configured acoustic space and a very pleasant disc to listen to on a rainy day…like today!
1. Concerto in G minor for oboe and orchestra – Tracks 1-3
2. Concerto in D major for harpsichord and orchestra (world premerie recording) – Tracks 4-6
3. Concerto in A major for violin and orchestra (world premerie recording) – Tracks 8-10
4. Concerto in G minor for violoncello and orchestra (world premerie recording) – Tracks 11-13
5. Trio Sonata in B flat major for violin, violoncello and basso continuo – Tracks 14-17
— John Nemaric