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www.cmdh.nl Euro25


L’Europe réunie
Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Hamburger Ebb und Fluth (‘Water Music’) in C, TWV55:C3 (1723) [21:47]
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Concerto per 2 violini, 2 flauti diretti, 2 oboi, fagotto ed archi in d minor, RV566 [7:52]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Keyboard Concerto in F, BWV1957 (c.1738/9) [14:32]
Unico Wilhelm van WASSENAER (1692-1766) Concerto Armonico V in f minor (1740) [10:01]
Jean-Fery REBEL (1666-1747) Fantaisie (1729) [9:28]
Collegium Musicum den Haag/Claudio Ribeiro (A=415Hz, Valotti temperament)
rec. 2007. DSD.
Includes bonus DVD Claudio & the Chicks [30:00]
ORF EDITION ALTE MUSIK Hybrid SACD 3008 [63:50]
Experience Classicsonline


 
The title of this recording is presumably meant to recall Couperin’s unification of the Italian style of Lully and the French style of Rameau in his les Goûts réunis. Now the aim is rather more ambitious – to present a sample of baroque styles across the whole of Europe, omitting Britain, das Land ohne Musik. What about Purcell? The Collegium Musicum seem to have performed some of his music at the 2007 Brunnenthal Festival, but it’s not included on the accompanying DVD of snippets from those concerts.
 
The first time that I played this CD, I was clearly not in the right mood. I got no further than the first work, Telemann’s so-called Water Music, which I found too helter-skelter and unfeeling; I was all prepared for a detailed comparison with Reinhard Goebel and a lecture on how his Telemann manages to be both fast and well-characterised. Now I’m slightly less sure – a second play-through leaves me rather more impressed. It’s still not my ideal interpretation – memories of the Akademie für alte Musik at a late-night Prom a couple of years ago are certainly not effaced – but I’ve warmed to it a little more.
 
The Overture, played in a forceful and enjoyable manner – I’d still like a little more sense of light and shade here – is followed by an apt characterisation of the sleeping Thetis (track 2). The following movement, depicting Thetis awakening (tr.3), goes with a real swing – still too unremitting from the start for my liking; she seems to be fully awake from the word go – and the next movement, depicting Neptune in love (tr.4), is also rather too deliberate for my taste. Amphitrite’s gavotte (track 5) and Triton’s harlequinade (tr.6) are lively enough, though a little unfeeling – in both the fast tempo seems to matter more than pictorial evocation; this is, after all, music with a declared programme. Even the storm which Æolus blows up (tr.7) could benefit from being a little less unremitting.
 
When Zephirus dances his minuet (tr.8) I craved much more charm – after all, he is described in the score as der angenehme Zephir, which is equivalent to Chaucer’s description of his sweete breeth. Here, he seems to have lost his gentle breath and his charm; even the flautist seems unable to conjure them up for us. The tide ebbs and flows rather violently in the gigue (tr.9) and the jolly sailors are so intent on being lively in the finale (tr.10) that the drunken rolling, so well evoked with a touch of gentle syncopation in the Proms performance which I have mentioned, is rather lost, not to mention Goebel’s knack of combining fast tempi with an evocation of the music’s pictorial qualities (DG Archiv 413 788 2).
 
The outer movements of the Vivaldi 2-violin concerto which follows are also rather hectic. Current Italian interpreters of Vivaldi are able, in the main, to sustain a case for fast and furious outer movements, but I was less impressed here. The tempo for the largo slow movement (tr.12) is fine, but I’d have liked a little more feeling here – I don’t want to turn the clock back to slow performances of Vivaldi where the slow movements are a little too affective, but I’d have liked more sentiment here. Listen to Il Giardino Armonico in some of Vivaldi’s other double concertos (Il Proteo, Warner Classics/Teldec 4509 94552 2) and you’ll hear the difference.
 
The Bach keyboard concerto, BWV1057 (the ‘alternative Brandenburg’) also opens – and continues – hectically. My ideal for this and the other Bach keyboard concertos is to be found in the performances of Robert Wooley and the Purcell Quartet. Sadly, Chandos have deleted their four CDs of these concertos, but they are still available as downloads in decent mp3 format – some volumes are also available as CD-quality lossless downloads – and they come complete with the original booklets, all with attractive Brueghel covers. (CHAN0595, CHAN0611, CHAN0636 and CHAN0641). I do hope that Chandos reissue these soon; otherwise go for the downloads. For more details, see my recent article on Downloads of Bach’s Orchestral Music.
 
The Concerto Armonico on tracks 17-20 is one of those which used to be attributed to Pergolesi or Ricciotti, but is now known to have been composed by Count van Wassenaer. As played here, the second movement (tr.18) almost seems to prefigure Haydn’s middle-period Sturm und Drang symphonies. It isn’t just a matter of tempo this time – if anything, this performance is slightly slower than that of Camerata Bern/Thomas Füri on DG Archiv 427 138-2 (no longer available). Where Füri is rather too polite, Ribeiro is too forceful, though I must admit that his interpretation opened my eyes to new possibilities in music which I came to know through the once ubiquitous Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra and Karl Münchinger. Paul Shoemaker gave a very positive recommendation to the recordings of the Concerti Armonici by the Aradia Ensemble/Kenin Mallon (Naxos 8.555384 – see review).
 
Perhaps because wit and imagination are more important than anything else in Rebel’s music, the final track (21) containing his 9-minute Fantaisie, effectively a suite of dances, comes over very well and rounds off the CD with the best performance on it.
 
These young musicians have got the technique – formidable technique – now they need to slow down and take stock of the differing demands of the music that they play. It’s very exciting to hear them in full flow, but we don’t always want full flow; more to the point, the music doesn’t always demand it. I’d certainly like to hear more of them if they’re still together in a few years’ time, when they’ve outlived their jokey nickname of ‘Claudio and the Chicks’.
 
The rather close recording does not help to banish the feeling that these performances are rather too intense and hectic. The surround-sound tracks may help to place the playing in a better acoustic. The presentation is good, though the English translation is slightly unidiomatic – and I’m not sure what the motley collection of jars on the cover is meant to signify. Is Europe no more than a variety of conserves and condiments?
  makes an attractive bonus, not least for the rococo setting at the 2007 Brunnenthal Festival. The performances seem rather less frenetic than on the CD but the constant cutting from rehearsal (in jeans and with some clutter in the church) to live performance is disconcerting.
 
I hadn’t encountered the ORF label before – an in-house production of Austrian Radio. The booklet advertises several of their recordings, some of which have won prestigious prizes. Gary Higginson welcomed two CDs of traditional Scottish music on the label but there are others which look at least equally interesting.
 
Brian Wilson
 
Give these young performers a few years to mature and they could be unbeatable ... see Full Review
 
 


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