The Camerata Antonio Lucio chamber orchestra was founded
in 1991 and has at its core musicians from Utrecht Conservatory. It’s
coached and conducted by violinist Emmy Verhey though its leader is
Chris Duindam. (The orchestra’s name? Vivaldi’s forenames.) Part of
their proselytising mission is to work with young musicians and indeed
the latest Dutch star, Janine Jansen, has performed with them frequently.
One of Holland’s best-kept secrets, Emmy Verhey has been on the concert
stage for forty years, and her recordings are scattered far and wide
on a series of budget labels, too bewilderingly disparate to collate.
I reviewed a performance of her Brahms’ Double with Janos Starker –
not perfect but certainly deeply musical and admirable – and I’ve heard
her Sibelius, which again I find strong and convincing and superior
to many far better known and fêted recordings.
Here the Camerata and their coach emeritus turn to
one of their core strengths, Bach, in what must have been one of their
very first recordings. It’s a pity they don’t offer the Double – I’d
like to have heard Verhey and Duindam, who also composes by the way
and whose works the Camerata perform in concert. Nevertheless we get
"the" A minor and "the" E major and then a trio
of other concertos, one of which is played by the Amsterdam Bach Soloists.
These are reconstructed Bach works and I’ve had to do some reconstructive
surgery myself on Classic Collection’s information which is Spartan
– there are no sleeve notes at all and the headings don’t delve into
the specifics of the reconstructions (I’ve done my best to elucidate
matters in my details).
Otherwise these are thoroughly engaging performances
with no quirks. The chamber band sounds quite small – maybe fifteen
strings or so – but not self-effacing. There’s a robust engagement with
the opening movement of the A minor and a noble aloofness in its slow
movement – if maybe the articulation can be a little clipped. Verhey
maintains a fine balance between reserve and expressive commitment (as
for example in the slow movement of the E major). Maybe the D minor
concerto in its violin guise – much better known in its keyboard form
– can drag a little, and I certainly felt it did in the Largo but there
is real eloquence in the Andante of the G minor transcribed from the
Harpsichord Concerto. The well-filled disc is rounded out with the three
fiddle D major concerto once more transcribed from the far better known
concerto for keyboard. The acoustic here is far more distant because
the performance was taped in 1988. The trio of Kussmaul, Rubingh and
Hengelbrock are at their most impressive in the central Adagio where
their collective sensitivity pays rich dividends.
An attractively bright set of performances then at
a disarmingly cheap price that catches one of the continent’s most youthful
chamber orchestras in embryonic but attractive form.