COMPOSERS: Bertali,Biber,Castello,Cesare,Frescobaldi & Speer
PERFORMER: Christian Lindberg (sackbut); Members of the Australian CO
CATALOGUE NO: BIS CD-1688
In its day, the sackbut was considered more at home with the strings and reeds than with the brass because it had a mellower sound than the trumpet. As it evolved into the modern trombone it became more powerful, acquiring a bigger broader tone but losing much of the subtle quality that had made it a congenial companion in a small ensemble.
The notes to this CD contain a good deal of ingenious, quite persuasive special pleading to defend the practice of playing these compositions on a modern instrument and with 21st-century sensibilities while, in his preface, Lindberg makes much of the fact that he used a sackbut for the recording.
Despite his sensitive playing, the instrument seemed too large a presence for much of the music on first hearings of this CD, and in the more stately pieces, such as those by Speer, Biber and Cesare, I envisioned a lighter tone and softer texture. The ear soon adjusts, however, and there is no questioning Lindberg’s nimble articulation or feeling for the music.
The members of the Australian Chamber Orchestra (two violins plus continuo instruments) provide responsive and charming accompaniments and the programming is nicely balanced. Barry Witherden