German Violin Virtuosi of 17th Century
(Biber, Boddecker and
Walther) and harpsichord works by
(baroque violin) Bob van Asperen (harpsichord & organ)
This is a splendid recital of 17th century extravagance, music veering again
and again between moving expressiveness and showy display, with surprises
all the way. Walther's serenata or 'little violinistic pleasure garden' has
the players imitate various musical instruments, including a guitar, bagpipe
and an organ tremulant. Tremendous fun. His more serious Sonata in C is eloquent
and exciting. Biber, the master of scordatura is represented by two
sonatas, that in D tuned a-e-a-d, the other in A minor a-e-a-e, each allowing
special sounds, noticeable particularly in double stopping. Each is in four
movements played continuously. The violinist, who shares his enthusiasm with
us in informative liner notes, writes that Biber 'never failed to unite sweetness
and boldness - which other composer soars to such heights in concluding a
work?' Boddecker's D minor sonata is one of the earliest, its movements
alternating between allegro and adagio, with a presto and an Alla Francesca,
quite a roller-coaster of sudden contrasts.
There are two keyboard solos, placed at just the right points in the recital.
Froberger's Suite no. 6 has a marvellous Tombeau for King Ferdinand IV and
Muffat is represented by a grand Passacaglia, which sounds magnificent on
Bob van Asperen's copy of a 1624 Ruckers harpsichord. He also varies
his accompaniments by playing several items on a lovely chamber organ.
Thomas Pietsch, distinguished Hamburg exponent of the baroque violin,
is as impressive as any now before the public - and we now have several in
UK who excel in this distinctive violinistic skill, characterised by high
virtuosity with limited use of vibrato, which demands accurate intonation
and certainly receives it here.
An auspicious CD of little known, but greatly entertaining, repertoire. Try
it, even if you are not already as captivated by 17th Century instrumental
music as myself - I think you'll enjoy it.
Peter Grahame Woolf