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Leipziger Barocksolisten
Arcangelo CORELLI (1683-1713)

Sonata for trumpet, 2 violins and bc in D (WoO 4) [04:20]
Johann Friedrich FASCH (1688-1758)

Sonata for 2 oboes, bassoon and bc in g minor (FWV N:g1) [07:38]
Joseph Bodin DE BOISMORTIER (1689-1755)

Sonata for descant and 2 basses in e, op. 37, 2 [04:39]
Gottfried (Godfrey) FINGER (c1660-1730)

Sonata for trumpet, oboe and bc in C [05:23]
Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)

Quartet for recorder, 2 transverse flutes and bc in d minor [14:14]
Johann Wilhelm HERTEL (1727-1789)

Concerto a 5 for trumpet, 2 oboes and 2 bassoons in D [12:25]
Gottfried REICHE (1667-1734) or Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)

Fanfare (Abblasen) for trumpet [00:32]
Leipziger Barocksolisten:
John Roderick MacDonald, trumpet; Thomas Hipper, oboe; Stefan Arzberger, violin; Thomas Reinhardt, bassoon; Tobias Martin, double bass; with Michael Schönheit, harpsichord
Recorded in March/June 2002 at the Lutherkirche in Leipzig, Germany DDD
QUERSTAND VKJK 0227 [52:42]

Listening to this disc I was wondering what it was aiming at. It presents a number of pieces from the baroque period, apparently chosen at random, without being connected to each other in any way.

This could be used as an introduction to the world of baroque music, but I can't see the need for that in our time. It could be used as a guide to the world of baroque instruments. But those instruments are so common today that I don't see the need for that either.

The guiding principle of the Leipziger Baroque Soloists seems to be, as Katrin Seidel explains in the liner notes, to take account of "the 'ad libitum' instrumentation that was still normal until the middle of the 18th century in that, in some of the works recorded here, they consciously structured the ensemble differently from the way that was usual up to now." This means that - with the exception of the sonata by Finger and the closing Fanfare - the instrumentation in this recording is different from what the composer has prescribed.

In principle this is a legitimate approach. Composers were often flexible as far as the instrumentation is concerned, and sometimes themselves suggested alternative scorings. Sometimes the titles of collections of sonatas left the choice to the performer. A good example is the French composer Joseph Bodin de Boismortier. The sonata played here comes from a publication of sonatas 'pour un Dessus & deux Basses', for one descant instrument - which could be flute, recorder, oboe, violin, whatever - and two bass instruments, one of which has an independent part, whereas the other is playing the basso continuo. The bass parts can be played by cello, viola da gamba or bassoon. The ensemble has chosen the combination of violin and bassoon as solo instruments.

The performers may have the freedom to choose the instrumentation, that freedom isn't unlimited. One has to pay attention to the character of the pieces to be played. And the first item on this disc is an example of an unlucky choice. Corelli's Sonata for trumpet and strings seems to be the only piece he has ever written for any other instrument than the violin. It is therefore rather strange to play the second violin part on the oboe, an instrument which otherwise doesn't play any role in Corelli's whole oeuvre. And it doesn't work here: the oboe is hardly audible as soon as the trumpet plays.

It is true that Telemann, in his Quartet in d minor, suggests to replace the recorder with the cello or the bassoon. That is what happens here. So far so good. But Telemann didn't suggest an alternative for the two transverse flutes. Could it be that he valued the combination of these two instruments that much that he didn't want those to be replaced? Here they are played by oboe and violin. As a result the close connection between these two parts has disappeared.

The Concerto a 5 by Hertel is a piece for wind band, scored for trumpet, 2 oboes and 2 bassoons, in which all five instruments are equally important. But in the performance by the Leipzig Baroque Soloists, one of the oboe parts is played on the violin, and one of the bassoon parts has been turned into a basso continuo part. This undermines the nature of the work and takes away its typical features Ė the fanfare motifs donít come across very well.

Perhaps one could accept this and take this recording as it presents itself, without paying too much attention to historical considerations. But that is only possible if the playing is exceptionally good. But it isn't. On the whole the performance is rather boring and colourless. There is a lack of differentiation between the notes. The vibrato of the violinist in some pieces is unstylish (Corelli, Boismortier), and as soon as he keeps it in check, is tone is rather flat.

I am not happy with some of the tempi as well. The largo's in the sonata by Fasch are too fast.

Like I said, I don't see the need for a recording like this. The decisions regarding the scoring of the works on this disc is questionable at best and in many cases doesn't lead to a convincing result. And the playing isn't of a level which justifies a CD recording.

I should add that the intonation of the trumpeter is excellent. But that doesn't tell much about his technical abilities. I am sure that his instrument has been tampered with, in that fingerholes have been added to make it easier to play. It is a common feature these days, fortunately often openly admitted by the players. But the fact that it happens more often than not doesn't make it right. An instrument can't be considered a 'period' instrument when it has been adapted to the capabilities of modern players, which are apparently considerably inferior to those of their 18th-century colleagues.

Johan van Veen

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