Torelli: The Original Brandenburg Concertos

Torelli: The Original Brandenburg Concertos

by Charivari Agréable
     
 
The "original Brandenburg concertos" subtitle of this release means less than it seems to suggest; the works have nothing to do with Bach's "Brandenburg Concertos," which didn't even have that name until many years after the fact. The connection is that Torelli's concertos here were dedicated, in 1698, to Sophie Charlotte

Overview

The "original Brandenburg concertos" subtitle of this release means less than it seems to suggest; the works have nothing to do with Bach's "Brandenburg Concertos," which didn't even have that name until many years after the fact. The connection is that Torelli's concertos here were dedicated, in 1698, to Sophie Charlotte, Electress of Brandenburg-Ansbach and eventually the leader honored by the Charlottenburg castle in Berlin. Bach's concertos were dedicated to the Margrave of Brandenburg, member of another branch of the Prussian ruling line. The big news here is not the Brandenburg connection but the entirely fresh performances of Torelli's Op. 6 concertos. This set of 12 pieces (rounded out here by a short sonata à quattro) was a key development in the emergence of the concerto grosso as a genre; some of them can be played with one instrument to a part, but the "Concerto in D minor, Op. 6, No. 10" (tracks 31-34), contains passages specifically marked as solos. Often these pieces seem rather shapeless in performance, but the historical-performance group Charivari Agréable makes a daring move here, and it pays off: relying on the rather thin evidence that Torelli would have had an opera orchestra available at the time, and on what they call "our deep immersion in the historical performance practice of the period," they double some of the string lines with recorder, oboe, or bassoon. This works like a charm, and it's a bit hard to figure out why; the effect is a little mysterious. It is not done with the intent of creating a symphonic effect. Instead, the doublings are subtle, used mostly to emphasize the interior lines that are drowned out by a phalanx of glittering violins. The entire texture takes on a density that hasn't been heard in these works before, and the very precise, lively lines forged by keyboardist and director Kah-Ming Ng make the music into something kaleidoscopic instead of shapeless. Ng in his booklet notes (in English only) states "the hope that Torelli's inventive inner-part writing might be better heard, his melodic genius more appreciated, and his full stature as a protagonist in the pantheon of concerto composers vindicated at last." These aims are startlingly realized.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/31/2009
Label:
Signum Uk
UPC:
0635212015728
catalogNumber:
157
Rank:
18659

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Concerti musicali (12), for strings & continuo, Op. 6
  2. Sonata a 4, for strings & continuo, G. 46

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