A & B Marcello, Vivaldi & Bach

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COMPOSERS: A & B Marcello,Vivaldi & Bach
LABELS: Opus
ALBUM TITLE: Concerti Italiani
WORKS: Works by A & B Marcello, Vivaldi & Bach
PERFORMER: Concerto Italiano/Rinaldo Alessandrini
CATALOGUE NO: 111 OP 30301
This ingenious programme presents four concertos from which Bach made arrangements for keyboard, together with Rinaldo Alessandrini’s reversal of the same process with Bach’s Italian Concerto for harpsichord, reconstructed for solo violin and strings. (Vivaldi’s La notte, recorded at another time and place, is thrown in for good measure.) The solo roles for each concerto are shared among the violinists of Concerto Italiano, clear evidence of their individual excellence. Recorded sound tames the generous reverberation of a Roman church, with solo strings focused in front of the ripieno support. The high spot is Bach’s Italian Concerto, freed from the harpsichord’s limited compass and raised a tone to a bright G major. Orchestral strings allow subtlety of articulation and phrasing beyond the powers of a harpsichord. Some is fascinatingly different from that which I’ve come to assume over the years; some is new, particularly added inner motifs and snatches of counterpoint. The slow movement is breathtakingly beautiful, the repeated chords and lyrical melody more germane to strings than to the shorter-lived tone of a harpsichord. The scrupulously vibrato-less strings are a touch nasal in the final movement, but the whole concept is a real addition to the Bach concerto repertoire, on which the composer himself would surely smile approvingly. George Pratt

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