Bach, Handel, Giordani, Kod‡ly & Martinu

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Bach,Giordani,Handel,Kodály & Martinu
LABELS: John Marks Records
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Music for a Glass Bead Game
WORKS: Works by Bach, Handel, Giordani, Kodály & MartinuÞ
PERFORMER: Arturo Delmoni (violin) Nathaniel Rosen (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: JMR 15
Hermann Hesse’s novel The Glass Bead Game provides the theme, albeit rather unnecessary, for this recording. In the book, principles of musical form and structure are closely tied to the rules of the ‘game’, and Bach’s Two-Part Inventions play a prominent role. Music for a Glass Bead Game also takes the Inventions as a starting point, but the instrumentation provides far greater interest than the literary associations, this being a rare recording for violin and cello.

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With Arturo Delmoni and Nathaniel Rosen’s eloquent approach, seven of the Inventions are beautifully shaped, the violin and cello affording a depth of perspective which emphasises the works’ sparse delicacy. The tone-colour is a little extravagant, but the players’ crisp articulation is enough to counterbalance it.

The Giordano duet is less successful, its refinement all but jeopardised by a misplaced portamento from Rosen. Virtuosity returns with Johan Halvorsen’s fiendish arrangement of Handel’s Passacaglia, usually heard on violin and viola, sublime in its ringing clarity.

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The ploy of juxtaposing Baroque with 20th-century Eastern European works surprisingly well, the chiselled elegance of the former intensifying the opulence of the latter. The Kodály is particularly fine, expansive and richly expressive, while the MartinuÞ has explosive brilliance; Delmoni and Rosen need no extra-musical packaging to justify this inventive selection of works. Catherine Nelson