JS Bach • Goldberg • Vivaldi: Concertos, etc

Giuliano Carmignola (violin), Mario Brunello (cello), et al (Arcana)

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CD_A472_bach

JS Bach • Goldberg • Vivaldi
Vivaldi: Sinfonia in D major, RV125; Concerto in D major, RV508; Concerto in E flat major, RV515; JS Bach:  Concerto in D minor, BWV 1043; Concerto in D minor, BWV 1060; Goldberg: Sonata in C minor, DürG 14
Giuliano Carmignola (violin), Mario Brunello (cello); Accademia dell’Annunciata/Riccardo Doni
Arcana A472   66:28 mins

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Violinist Giuliano Carmignola and cellist Mario Brunello – long-time cronies and musical collaborators – have re-cast a selection of double concertos by Bach and Vivaldi, transposing parts originally written for violin or oboe down an octave, to be played on the violoncello piccolo – a small Baroque cello. In addition to the famous works are a couple of novelties:  a theatrical Sinfonia by Vivaldi, and a curio by Johann Gottlieb Goldberg – dedicatee of Bach’s Goldberg Variations – which fuses the Italianate ‘church sonata’ style with Bachian counterpoint.

The re-scoring of the concertos creates striking chiaroscuro effects, and though one occasionally misses the affectionate intertwining of two equal instruments, the textural separation reveals details which are often obscured. The soloists are not only superb virtuosos but they converse with the rapport of chamber musicians, and are keenly aware of period style – Carmignola playing a Venetian violin from 1733 by Pietro Guarneri, Brunello a copy of an Amati from the early 1600s, its sound warm and tenorial. They parry with daring abandon Vivaldi’s barrage of challenges (quick-fire passagework, double stopping, bariolage, high-wire acrobatics), while to Bach’s Teutonic idiom they bring Italian fire and lyricism. These are high-risk performances, both soloists preferring raw expression to mere beauty of sound.

Harpsichordist-director Riccardo Doni and the Milanese Accademia dell’Annunciata underscore the drama of Vivaldi’s instrumental works and keep textures clear as glass. The recording, in a sonorous church acoustic, has fine detail.

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Kate Bolton-Porciatti