COMPOSERS: Corelli and Bach,Holst,Tippett
WORKS: Works by Tippett, Holst, Corelli and Bach
PERFORMER: St Paul CO/Christopher Hogwood
CATALOGUE NO: 440 376-2 DDD
This disc is rewarding, above all because it places one of Tippett’s most approachable works, the Fantasia Concertante on a Theme of Corelli of 1953, firmly in the Baroque context within which it was conceived, as a tribute to the great Roman composer’s tercentenary. Hence Corelli’s vibrant opening Concerto Grosso in F, Op. 6/2 and the charmingly played Trio Sonata in B minor from the third 1680s set (Op. 3/4), whose Vivace – which plays a key role in the Tippett – was also reworked by Bach as the short organ fugue in B minor.
Christopher Hogwood’s links with Minnesota’s St Paul orchestra are yielding rich dividends: except for the odd clash of instrumental timbre or over-clipped bar in the Bach Fugue in B minor on a Theme of Corelli, BWV 579 (arranged by Hogwood), these deliberately restrained performances on historic-sounding instruments of some beauty reveal a great deal. Most remarkably, the same quality spills into the Tippett, which may have had more sensual treatments, but rarely – overall – so clearly defined. Corelli rules here, not English Romantic pastoral, and the work gains, despite a slight doggedness.
The lush textures are constantly pierced, as where, like a Turner sunburst, light breaks out over the top in the form of a solo violin. It is a gorgeous moment of Straussian opulence. The Decca sound is first class, despite a slight background drone on B which is unfortunate. The chirpily played Holst fillers, the St Paul’s Suite and A Fugal Concerto, are an ideal complement. Roderic Dunnett