To the four major composers whose anniversaries fall in 2009 we
must add Martinů (d.1959) and, now, Torelli (d.1709). Let’s
hope for more in this anniversary year. Poor old Torelli doesn’t
have many recordings solely devoted to his music, though there
is a very good version of some of the Opus 8 concertos,
including the much anthologised ‘Christmas’ Concerto, on Chandos
(CHAN0716, Collegium Musicum 90/Simon Standage). There are also
several recordings of his Trumpet Concertos, including a Brilliant
Classics 2-CD set which Patrick Waller thought ‘a highly recommendable
way of exploring some worthwhile late 17th century
music. It deserves the attention of anyone interested in the development
of the trumpet’ (92401 – see review).
Charivari Agréable have made a number of recordings
for Signum, mostly of music slightly older than Torelli, though
their Telemann CD, The Virtuoso Godfather - yes, they
do like catchy titles – post-dates the music here. Glyn Pursglove
thought that that CD offered a ‘well-planned programme ...
both instructive and full of delights’ (SIGCD086 – see review).
First impressions suggested that the same would be true of
the new recording.
First, however, that title. Of course, it’s designed
as a gimmick to help sell the CD – and it’s at least much
less over-the-top than a Delos album containing some of Torelli’s
music, Girls Gotta Dance or, indeed, the flowery title
page of Torelli’s first edition – but the word ‘original’
must not be taken to suggest that the music directly influenced
Bach’s more famous set of six concertos, except in the sense
that the Brandenburgs were developed from the
Italian concerto grosso form, and Bach had connections
with Torelli’s pupil, the Dresden Konzertmeister Pisendel,
for whom his solo violin works may have been intended. There
is a parallel between Bach and Torelli, since both dedicated
their works in the hope of obtaining positions at the court
of different Electors of Brandenburg, in Torelli’s case to
Electress Sophie Charlotte, without actually obtaining the
desired post. In both cases, too, we have cause to be thankful
for their failure; as the booklet explains, Torelli would
surely have found a career there too stifling, and the same
is true for Bach.
This new release is worth a warm welcome, if for
nothing else for adding to the recorded availability of Torelli’s
music outside the anthologies of Christmas Concertos and works
with trumpet. It neatly complements Chandos’s Collegium Musicum
90 recording of some of the Op.8 Concertos, including
the inevitable Christmas Concerto, and other works
(CHAN0716), a budget-price Stradivarius CD of the Op.5 Concerti
a 4 (STR11003) and a Bongiovanni CD of his Concertos,
Sinfonias and Sonatas (GB100082).
The music exists in a first printed edition of
1698 – Concerti Musicali Consegrata all’ Altezza Serenissima
Electorale di Madama Soffia Charlotta, Elletrice di Brandemburgo
... di Giuseppe Torelli – and a near-contemporary printing
which Torelli commissioned from the Amsterdam publisher Roger. Where
necessary, it has been edited for this recording by Dr Ng
himself. The music is transitional in that Concertos nos.
6, 10 and 12 may claim the distinction of being the first
ever to contain a direction that the part marked solo
is for solo violin (two of them in no.10). By the time that
the Op.8 concertos were written, solo parts had become more
The addition of the Sonata à 4, G46, which
rounds of the CD, serves more than to bring the recording
to a respectable time; since there is only a very fine distinction
between a 4-part Concerto and a 4-part Sonata, the work sounds
by no means out of place.
Not having a recording of Op.6 for direct comparison,
I used the Collegium Musicum 90/Simon Standage recording as
my benchmark, since, as I’ve said, first impressions were
favourable enough for me to consider the new recording as
worthy of such comparison, with the proviso that there is
much more scope for soloists to shine in Op.8. Both are a
world removed from those over-leisurely performances by the
likes of I Musici, from which I first got to know the concertos
of Torelli and his contemporaries, yet neither over-indulges
in the helter-skelter tempi which make some more recent performances,
mostly from Italian ensembles, unsuitable for listening in
If the Collegium Musicum 90 performances and recording
sound a touch lither and brighter, there isn’t much in it;
the impression is at least partly attributable to the fact
there’s more variety on the Chandos CD, with three trumpet
sinfonias. Heard on their own, the Charivari performances
are more than agréable; in fact, they’re first-rate.
Their leader, Bojan Cicić, fully deserves the separate
billing which he receives for his performances of the solo
items, never over-stepping the mark to make the violin too
prominent. He is ably partnered by Lind Hannah-Anderson in
The recording is good throughout, close but not
over-close, and well balanced. I’d have liked to hear more
of the continuo, but that’s a criticism which I find myself
levelling at about every recent baroque music recording.
Kah-Ming Ng’s notes are detailed and informative
and, thanks apparently to Dr Glyn Redworth, free from over-use
of purple prose.
This is a distinguished addition to the Signum
catalogue – not quite in the same league as their monumental
recordings of all Tallis’s music, but not far removed.
The title of the collection and the striking cover
on which it’s displayed will doubtless attract many impulse
buyers. I don’t think that they’ll have much cause for disappointment
when they hear what they’ve purchased. They’ll be even happier
if they also go on to buy the Chandos recording.
by Mark Sealey