- Concerto for 2 violins, viola & cello No. 4 in C minor
- Concerto for 2 violins, viola & cello No. 2 in G major
- Concerto for 2 violins, viola & cello No. 3 in D major
- Concerto for 2 violins, viola & cello No. 1 in G minor
- Concerto for 2 violins, viola & cello No. 6 in B flat major
- Concerto for 2 violins, viola & cello No. 5 in E flat major
- Concerto for 2 violins, viola & cello No. 7 in A major
Italian master Baldassare Galuppi's catalog is so heavy with opera, sacred vocal works, and solo harpsichord pieces that it tends to dwarf his tiny output of purely instrumental music, a good deal of which awaits proper documentation. The odd-numbered set of seven "Concerti a Quattro" recorded here by Genoa-based newcomers Ensemble Il Falcone on the Italian Dynamic label originate not with a published set, but a set of manuscript parts in the Biblioteca Estense in Modena. The first printed editions of these concerti came out in the early '60s, and a few have been recorded as separate items, with L'Offerta Musicale being the first to release a recording of the whole set for Tactus in 2000. According to Dynamic, neither of the two published editions was pressed into use here; the music is played from the original manuscript parts. Ensemble Il Falcone also uses "original instruments," but we are not told anything about them, a pity, as the instruments definitely have a distinctive sound. These concerti, though ostensibly for string orchestra, presumably can be played by a chamber orchestra or a small group such as Ensemble Il Falcone, which realizes the four parts on a combination of two violins, viola, cello, violone, and harpsichord. Musicologists date this Galuppi set of seven to about 1740, which is early in his career -- at the time he was just becoming established in Venice and had yet to travel abroad. Without a solo part and flexibly scored in high, Italianate Baroque style, these concerti were among the last compositions of their kind, and one could be forgiven for mistaking the fugal, sprightly "Concerto No. 2 in G major" as being the work of Johann Sebastian Bach. There's every reason to get to know these concertos, and you wonder why they aren't performed with more frequency. The Tactus recording by L'Offerta Musicale utilizes a larger group than Ensemble Il Falcone and renders Galuppi's music in a fashion in line with what we are used to in terms of Baroque concerti. This more modest realization is a good one, although the violins have a gutty and at times rather slippy sound, as though the bow is having some difficulty making contact with the strings. Ensemble intonation also seems to be a problem in spots, though overall the effect is not too distracting. In terms of expressiveness, however, Ensemble Il Falcone is quite good -- the music is well-paced and dynamic swells and "dying off" effects are effectively managed. While it cannot be said that in its recorded debut that Ensemble Il Falcone has taken the brass ring in Galuppi's seven "Concerto à Quattro" -- no one truly has it yet -- this Dynamic recording is a thoroughly acceptable presentation of these rare works, and Ensemble Il Falcone is a promising period instrument ensemble.