GIUSEPPE TORELLI: The Original Brandenburg Concertos – Charivari Agréable/ director, Kah-Ming Ng – Signum Classics

by | Dec 21, 2009 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

GIUSEPPE TORELLI: The Original Brandenburg Concertos – Charivari Agréable/ director, Kah-Ming Ng – Signum Classics [Distr. by Naxos], 62:30 ****:

If, like me, the flood of same-old-same-old recordings of music by J.S. Bach sometimes overwhelms you, here’s a guaranteed-to-be-unique take on your favorite Bach.

It’s the discovery by a team of scholars working in the British Library, definitely Harry Potter like, of “The Original Brandenburg Concertos, by Giuseppe Torelli,” which the rest of us know as “Concerti Musicali a Quattro Opera VI.”

If true, this discovery could significantly change the balance of power in the Baroque music world and perhaps the classical music industry overall. One thing is for sure: Without the revenue from its
Brandenburgs, and liable for damages and payment of back dividends, the Bach global brand could be profoundly affected.

What’s most notable about the actual music by Torelli (whose virtuosity and composing paved the way for Vivaldi and Corelli) is that the 43 movements manage to squeeze into 62 minutes of playing time. (So you know they had ADD back in Berlin in the late 17th century, too!).

But it’s like climbing into a Mini Cooper and finding out how much room there is inside. Maybe Torelli’s an acquired taste, or maybe it’s just the doings of the opera-ready Charivari Agréable (bulked up to 23 for the occasion, they are named after an obscure French treatise on accompaniment published in 1707, two years before Torelli’s death).

Re-scored to include wind band doublings and brass interjections, each short musical treasure is subtly nuanced and treated to the kind of delicate tonal beauty and stylistic purity which only is possible in the most perfect of miniature arts, whether music or embroidery.

The sound, recorded in a church in rural Gloucestershire, is as pretty and exquisitely detailed as the performances.

— Laurence Vittes

Related Reviews
Logo Pure Pleasure