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
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
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.