Gluck, CPE Bach, WF Bach, Locatelli, Boccherini

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COMPOSERS: Boccherini,CPE Bach,Gluck,Locatelli,WF Bach
LABELS: NAIVE
ALBUM TITLE: La Casa del Diavolo
WORKS: Dance of the Furies; Il pianto d’Arianna
PERFORMER: Enrico Onofri (violin), Ottavio Dantone (harpsichord); Il Giardino Armonico/Giovanni Antonini
CATALOGUE NO: OP 30399
‘The Animal Cry of Passion’ runs the title of the booklet essay, a fair summary of a programme that deals in emotional extremes. Playing in the premiere of the most famous piece here, the ‘Dance of the Furies’ from Gluck’s ballet Don Juan, was the young Boccherini, who later expanded Gluck’s dance in a symphony nicknamed ‘The house of the devil’. The whole work, by turns ominous, anxious and ferociously energetic, makes the jibe about Boccherini as ‘la femme de Haydn’ seem absurd. Complementing this diablerie are Locatelli’s Il pianto d’Arianna – an impassioned operatic scena for violin and strings – and music by JS Bach’s sons: one of CPE’s astonishing string symphonies, and an equally volatile harpsichord concerto probably by CPE’s wayward elder brother, Wilhelm Friedemann.

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From a truly ferocious ‘Dance of the Furies’, Il Giardino Armonico consistently plays up the music’s disruptive violence and unease. The explosiveness and (in the Adagio) neurasthenic sensibility of the CPE Bach symphony make even Trevor Pinnock’s English Concert (Archiv) seem restrained. In the Locatelli Enrico Onofri’s violin sighs and rages with delirious abandon, while the account of WF Bach’s concerto maximises the contrast between the orchestra’s almost brutal vehemence and the harpsichord’s rhapsodic pathos. Some will doubtless find these performances exaggerated in their rhetoric. But exaggeration is surely what these pieces are all about. Richard Wigmore