COMPOSERS: Bach,Handel & Turlough O’Carolan,Vivaldi
LABELS: Deutsche Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: The Italian ‘gusto’ at home and abroad – works by Vivaldi, Bach, Handel & Turlough O’Carolan
PERFORMER: The Harp Consort/Andrew Lawrence-King
CATALOGUE NO: 05472 77366 2
This unusual programme has taken the full title of Bach’s celebrated Italian Concerto, nach italianischen Gusto (‘in the Italian Style’) as a peg on which to hang bold but imaginative transcriptions. To quote Andrew Lawrence-King, ‘the instrumentation and interpretational styles of the various concertos in this programme reflect our detailed study of historical performance practices’. While most of the music on the disc will be familiar to readers, the instrumental colours provide a degree of novelty, at times startling.
In the Eighth Concerto of Vivaldi s celebrated Op. 3, L’estro armonico, for instance, the two solo violins have been supplanted by a double harp, theorbo and guitar, while Bach’s aforementioned Italian Concerto loses its solo keyboard status to become a fully orchestrated piece for concertante harpsichord, oboe and bassoon, with strings. In point of fact, this arrangement works rather well, though the Vivaldi piece, which requires instruments capable of sustaining notes of long value to achieve its intended effect, does not. But much else here is entertaining, and the two pieces by Turlough O’Carolan, played by the Irish Band, are delightful. Nicholas Anderson