its reclamation of the 1960s and 1970s recordings of Polish-born
Felicja Blumental with this, the first of a two volume ‘Italian
Concerto’ series. The second volume couples the B flat major
of Manfredini with two by Paisiello and this earlier volume
symmetrically shackles the big Viotti with two much smaller
and more intimate works by Giovanni Benedetto Piatti.
Viotti is actually a transcription of the Nineteenth Violin
Concerto, in which form it will be better known, at least by
initiates of Viotti’s extensive portfolio of concertos, some
of them Golden Age warhorses. This doesn’t quite apply to the
Nineteenth, which has been rather passed over. It’s a big work,
certainly, lasting here all of thirty-nine minutes which is
far too long for the actual material. Though the opening movement
begins promisingly with a strong martial feel, it soon falls
away into rather static bluster and even Blumental and the loyal
Zedda can do little with it, even though the slow movement has
a certain Mozartian lightness and animation. The best of the
three movements is the finale; well sprung, lyrical, well laid
out but again too long.
actually the Piatti Concertos that prove more welcome, especially
the compact Largo of the G major which is wistful, classical
and altogether winning; as indeed is what sounds like the guitar
underpinning of the same concerto’s finale. Piatti could really
cultivate grazioso – as he does in the Andantino opener of the
C minor – a gracious molto mosso indeed. But the highlight
of the concerto and indeed of the disc has to be the ravishing
aria of the Adagio, the beauty of which derives immediately
from the hushed string introduction and is continued by Blumental’s
pellucid phrasing. Gorgeous.
and recording are above par – sometimes these ex-Vox LPs were
scrappily enthusiastic but not here. Neat, tidy and affectionate.