31 tracks - MP3 192 Kbps - RAR 117 Mb
The concertos of Giuseppe Torelli’s op. 8, which his brother Felice brought to the printer after the composer’s death, broke ground in the setting of solo violins in various combinations. Like those in Corelli’s concertos grosso, their solo parts seem relatively tame in comparison with the flamboyant, high-flying passages of Vivaldi’s concertos—or even with the crabbed but highly demanding technical double stopping and staccatos of Torelli’s German violinistic predecessors. Yet the solos emerge randomly from their tuttis as wildflowers on a hillside; and this unpredictability compensates in a sense for the modest impression they make in themselves. Richard Maunder, of whose edition Simon Standage has made use, and who also provided the booklet’s notes, doesn’t mention an architectural element that may have strongly influenced their composition, one which helps explain the effectiveness of Torelli’s works for trumpet and orchestra included in Bongiovanni’s three-CD set (GB 5523/24/25-2, 17:6)—San Petronio’s 12-second reverberation time. In that recording, Sergio Vartolo provided slow movements marked, for example, Largo e spiccato, with lots of space between staccato bow strokes. San Petronio, where that recording had been made, filled those spaces with cavernous reverberation, creating an effect duplicable only in a venue with a similar acoustic handicap (or, to be politically correct, challenge). Given lemons, Torelli certainly made tangy lemonade! Standage’s solution for these movements (there’s one in the relatively famous Christmas Concerto, op. 8/6) involves taking the staccato chords more rapidly, leaving no space to fill but also robbing the movements of their somewhat ceremonious majesty. Since Torelli himself played the violin, it’s hardly a surprise that solo violins play an important part even in the works for trumpet and orchestra. In the second movement of the Concerto in D Major for Two Trumpets, for example, the violin takes off on an unexpected breathtaking digression.
Simon Standage has gone down many roads not taken, carrying with him a period timbre and aesthetic that represent only a small step for those addicted to the tone and technique of the modern violin, yet incorporating meticulous period scholarship. Catherine Weiss joins him in the double violin concertos (concertos grosso with two violins in the concertino constitute half of Torelli’s op. 8, while the groundbreaking solo concertos make up the rest); Crispian Steele-Perkins plays the trumpet in the Sinfonia, G 8, while David Blackadder serves as his partner in the two works for two trumpets and orchestra. The Collegium Musicum 90 attempts to approximate performing forces that Maunder believes appropriate—in the Concerto for Two Trumpets, for example, the orchestral forces amount to eight violins, six (instead of an original eight) violas, three cellos, two bass violins, two double basses, and organ (in other concertos, the forces shrink to chamber-like proportions). Standage plays slow movements with Italianate cantabile (as in the Concerto, op. 8/11, which spices lyrical passages with technical flights of fancy); and he generates what electricity the rapid passages allow him—and affecting drama, too, as in the stormy finale of the Concerto, op. 8/9. If these concertos and sinfonias don’t sparkle with the brilliance of their successors, that may be partly due to their larval nature and partly due to their origin in San Petronio. Since the reverberation time of All Saints Church in East Finchley, London, doesn’t match that of San Petronio, some passages, notably Standage’s solos, emerge with correspondingly greater clarity than they would on their home court; others lack the spaciousness that a seemingly endless reverberation time can create. Simply as performances, though, these provide occasionally more sedate and tarter counterparts to the sonorous and energetic ones on modern instruments by violinists Mariana Sirbu and Antonio Perez and I Musici (also an incomplete set, released by Philips in 1992 as 432 118-2); and simply as recorded sound, Chandos’s engineering provides both clarity and depth, reflecting its chosen venue. Recommended for the repertoire and performances: nobody can reasonably expect violinists (or trumpeters) to carry San Petronio around with them in their violin cases.
Robert Maxham, FANFARE
Concerto Grosso in A Minor, Op. 8, No. 2
Concerto Grosso in C Minor, Op. 8, No. 8
Sinfonia for Trumpet in D Major, G. 8
Concerto Grosso in G Major, Op. 8, No. 5
Concerto Grosso in G Minor, Op. 8, No. 6
Concerto for 2 Trumpets in D Major, G. 18
Concerto Grosso in B-Flat Major, Op. 8, No. 4
Concerto Grosso in F Major, Op. 8, No. 11
Sinfonia for 2 Trumpets in D Major, G. 23
Concerto Grosso in E Minor, Op. 8, No. 9
Collegium Musicum 90
dir. Simon Standage