> Italian concertos for 4 violins [MC]: Classical CD Reviews- Oct 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Italian concertos for 4 violins
Giuseppe TORELLI (1658-1709)

Concerto for 4 violins, in A minor [6:57]
Giovanni MOSSI (around 1700)

Concerto for 4 violins, in G minor op. 4 no. 12 [13:53]
Giuseppe VALENTINI (1680-1759)

Concerto for 4 violins, in A minor op. 7 no. 11 [19:28)
Pietro Antonio LOCATELLI (1695-1764)

Concerto for 4 violins, in F major op.4 no. 12 [12:10]
Leonardo LEO (1694-1744)

Concerto for 4 violins, in D major [12:57]
Musica Antiqua Köln
(Played on authentic instruments)
Director: Reinhard Goebel
Concertino from:
Violins: Anton Steck, Katherina Wolff, Manfred Kraemer, Laura Johnson, Werner Ehrhardt and Andrea Keller.
Ripieno: Violin Florian Geldsetzer; Violas Claudio Steepe and Raimund Nolte; Cello Phoebe Carrai; Violone Eberhard Maldfeld; Cembalo Andreas Spering; Organ Christoph Spering.
Recording: Köln, Deutschlandfunk, Sendesaal, January 1991. DDD
ARCHIV PRODUKTION 445 612-2 [65:38]


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Five composers are presented here in this Archiv Produktion collection of late baroque concertos for four violins. Concertos for 4 violins are fairly rare birds in the violin repertoire with only Vivaldi writing more than one.

Three of the composers Mossi, Valentini and Locatelli were said to be pupils of the Rome-based Arcangelo Corelli. Corelliís influence over his pupils and in the development of instrumental music of the late baroque era cannot be underestimated.

Corelli did not compose for the human voice - only for instruments. He was one of the first composers to write specifically for the violin rather than merely translating vocal styles to musical instruments and according to music writer David Ewen, "solidly established a concerto structure." In fact, Corelli succeeded in creating the concerto grosso style, which was valid and significant, remaining a model for his contemporaries and successors.

These concertos for four violins are really variants of concerto grosso where the main intention is the contrast between alternations of the string section of obbligato soloists called the concertino and the rest of the players called the ripieno. The traditional format of the concerto grosso is of several movements with dignified adagios, or largos, followed by lively allegros.

Corelliís pupils Giovanni Mossi, Giuseppe Valentini and Pietro Locatelli each have a concerto for four violins featured on this disc. In the booklet notes ensemble director Reinhard Goebel writes that, "What Corelliís students learnt was so perfect a technical mastery that they could even write for four obbligato violins Ö which is a surprisingly rare accomplishment Ö It is a possibility that these works, in a medium that sets unique problems of technique and timbre, were written to settle a matter of internal rivalry among Corelliís students."

The first and final works on this recording are concertos for four violins by the Verona-born Giuseppe Torelli, who lived for many years in Bologna and Anspach, Germany and also the Neapolitan Leonardo Leo. Although no less worthy, Reinhard Goebel considers these concertos to be less demanding in content and style. "Torelliís is a formally strict concerto and Leoís makes a skilful balance between fugal and galant styles".

If the listener prefers his late baroque playing to be full of attack with plenty of high energy, panache and artistic licence then this recording is not for him. Musica Antiqua Köln use authentic baroque instruments and give a historically accurate performance.

Reinhard Goebel directs the ensemble with total control and precision. The playing is cool and refined, consistent and of an impeccably high standard. Furthermore in the concertino parts the four soloists play in perfect balance and with impressive bow control throughout.

The sound quality is vividly clear and is all one could ask for. All the groups of instruments can be heard individually. Listen out for the fine cello playing from Phoebe Carrai in the Mossi concerto.

This is an impressive Archiv Produktion release and I recommend it without hesitation.

Michael Cookson

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