The sound of this album
takes some getting used to. The engineers
adopt a close-in microphone pickup,
presumably to boost the seven-strong
Sonatori de la Gioiosa Marca - not an
unreasonable decision, and a volume
cut avoids listener claustrophobia.
But then, within this close perspective,
the solo instruments are brought front-and-center
with an absurdly exaggerated prominence.
The oboe doesn't come off too badly,
just larger-than-life; but the inflated,
saxophonish presence of the bassoon
- which we hear first - is disconcerting
and rather out of scale.
The irony is that the
Sonatori, who play solidly and with
full-bodied tone, didn't need any help.
On the credit side, they're not afraid
of the music's expressive capabilities,
"warming up" the harmonic shifts in
RV 481 attractively, and they articulate
with precision and point. Against this,
their sense of style, though assured,
is mostly generic - the one movement
that goes with a really infectious "swing,"
the opening of RV 451, is unfortunately
compromised by mild tempo instability
- and, save in the quiet introspection
of La Notte, most of the playing
settles at about a mezzo forte.
Keyboardist Gianpietro Rosato switches
from harpsichord to organ continuo for
the Largo of RV 545, to agreeable
The concertante soloists
are fine. Bassoonist Sergio Azzolini
is remarkably fluent, though under such
close scrutiny, he sounds like he's
about to swallow his reed in the quick
triplets of RV 481. Hans Peter Westermann
is a sensitive oboist, briefly going
sharp in the slow movement of RV 461.
What is presumably an intentional cross-relation
in the Largo of the double concerto
is permitted to sound like a mistake
here (twice!), and should have been
rethought. Both soloists double the
ritornelli of their respective
concerti in the currently approved scholarly
My various minor strictures
notwithstanding, I enjoyed this disc.
It reminded me of numerous chamber concerts
I've heard by ad hoc ensembles
in Prague's beautiful Baroque churches
- with the advantage that the Sonatori
are far more polished!