Torelli: Concerti musicali, Op. 6; Sonata à 4 in A minor, G46

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COMPOSERS: Torelli
LABELS: Signum
WORKS: Concerti musicali, Op. 6; Sonata à 4 in A minor, G46
PERFORMER: Bojan Cici´c (violin); Charivari Agréable/Kah-Ming Ng
CATALOGUE NO: SIGCD 157

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Kah-Ming Ng has added wind, a move both arguable and effective, to these 12 string concertos. He’s also mischievously subtitled them ‘The original Brandenburg Concertos’ – they were dedicated to an Electress, but she was only distantly related to Bach’s later patron.

Music historians hail Torelli for six of his Op. 8 concertos, supposedly the first specifically for solo violin. But so too are some of Op. 6 – Ng’s notes quote Torelli’s rubric, which also invites up to three or four instruments to a part in the tuttis.

So although these 40 movements are brief, only two over two minutes, they are refreshingly varied in density and tone-colours. In some, Ng has wind doubling strings, elsewhere (and more effectively) they alternate.

One special sound is saved until the 11th concerto – fleeting glimpses of a charming chamber organ as Ng plays divisions between detached orchestral chords.

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Three of the 12 concertos stand out: No. 6 – powerful rhetoric in its opening movement and a gripping finale driven by long sequences; No. 9 – a dramatic adagio middle movement; and No. 10 whose first three movements build up as a single tripartite structure before a lively final presto (with moments of rather acrid intonation). George Pratt