Torelli: Concerti Grossi, Op. 8 (excerpts)

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COMPOSERS: Torelli
LABELS: Philips
WORKS: Concerti Grossi, Op. 8 (excerpts)
PERFORMER: I Musici
CATALOGUE NO: 432 118-2 DDD
Every music student is lectured on Torelli’s significance in the rise of the Italian concerto, but no one seemed to have told the record companies recently, so these six concertos make good a serious omission in the catalogue. The selection reflects Torelli’s own organisation of Op. 8: half for two violins, looking back to Corelli’s concerti grossi, though more broadly structured; half for solo violin, anticipating Vivaldi.

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Mariana Sirbu’s solo virtuosity sparkles through brilliant cross-string arpeggiandos and double-stopping – parts of No. 9 are virtually a compressed double concerto. Of the concertos for two violins, No. 3 proves a particular high spot, with a hypnotic, unrelenting drive, and the teasingly unexpected harmonic turns of a composer revelling in his own adventurousness.

I Musici have always chosen to make few concessions to period style apart from their number – 12 in all. They revel in the resources of modern instruments, with strong vibrato and a positive delight in rich sonorities. At its best it is a very exciting sound. The recording is warm and resonant, aptly reflecting the acoustic of the Basilica of Santa Petronio in Bologna.

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If you accept the non-period approach, this disc will give you great pleasure. George Pratt