- Bonus DVD Material
- Concerto No. 3 in C major
- Improvisation for recorder & ensemble on Alessandro Scarlatti's partita "Follia di Spagna"
- Sinfonia in A minor
This collection of concertos and sinfonias "per flauto" -- recorder, not flute -- composed in Naples around 1725 may seem highly specialized, and so it is. But sometimes deep specialist recordings have a lot to tell general listeners, and that's the case here. A small but delightful efflorescence of the early music scene since the year 2000 has been the appearance of a generation of superbly equipped young recorder players, and Switzerland's Maurice Steger certainly falls into this group. The highlight of the album is the Improvisation upon Alessandro Scarlatti's "Partite 'Follia di Spagna,'" track 5, which goes into spectacular difficulties for both Steger and the other players in his small ensemble. This appears to be a unique animal in itself -- an improvisation on a work by Scarlatti that was itself a work based on semi-improvisatory practice, and it's really very exciting -- not only for Steger's agility and his variety of tonguings, but for the shifting textures of the ensemble. This track and several others use a psaltery as part of the continuo group, with a peculiar haunting effect. Another bonus comes in the form of fine performances of music that has been largely ignored. The two Scarlattis (Domenico Scarlatti is represented by one of his early and rare non-keyboard pieces) are familiar enough, but not Domenico Sarro, Nicola Fiorenza, Francesco Barbella, Francesco Mancini, and Leonardo Leo (who is known for opera if at all). There are unusual moments scattered through the entire album: check out the Spiritoso finale (track 4) of Sarro's "Concerto 11 in A minor" with its folk-dance quality, unusual for 1725. There are a few flaws: the concerto by Leo at the end is, as annotator Dinko Fabris even admits, not quite of a piece with the rest of the music. It represents a later style, and it feels like it was composed for flute, not recorder. And Harmonia Mundi's sound is a bit on the live side. But these are minor complaints about a release that belongs in any good Baroque collection.
|Label:||Harmonia Mundi Fr.|