Some composers are ignored for decades, and then all of a sudden
a number of discs with their music are released. I fail to understand
the mechanisms behind this, but: better late than never. That
certainly goes for Giovanni Benedetto Platti who is an interesting
composer who worked at about the time the baroque style vanished
and the classical style emerged. This development left its mark
on Platti's music, in particular on his keyboard sonatas recorded
complete by the Italian harpsichordist Filippo Emanuele Ravizzo.
Some time ago Naxos released a disc with six flute sonatas op.
3, and here we have a CPO production with sonatas in various scorings.
was born in Venice in a time when many famous masters of music
were active, like Vivaldi, the Marcello brothers, Gasparini
and Albinoni. It is perhaps because he felt that under these
circumstances his chances of making a career were rather slim
that he moved to Germany. Here he became the principal oboist
at the court of Prince-Archbishop Lothar Franz von Schönborn
in Würzburg. He was held in high esteem by his new employer,
who in a letter called him an "incomparable oboist".
He not only played the oboe, but also violin, cello, flute and
harpsichord and he was active as composer and as teacher. He
was the best-paid musician at the court, earning more than twice
what the Kapellmeister received. In 1764 an Italian musician
reported Platti's death in a letter to Padre Martini, and here
he mentioned him in the same breath as Geminiani and Locatelli.
weren't always bright and wonderful in Platti's career, though:
in 1724, just two years after his appointment, his employer
died, and his successor disbanded the court orchestra. Platti
had the fortune of having built a good relationship with the
former prince-archbishop's brother, Rudolf Franz Erwein. He
was an avid player of the cello, and this inspired Platti to
write pieces with obbligato cello parts, some of which can be
heard on this disc. It was thanks to this connection that he
was able to spend the next years at Rudolf's court in Wiesentheid.
Here he probably also composed those pieces which contain virtuoso
bassoon parts. The Wiesentheid library contains another piece
with a virtuoso bassoon part by the Italian composer Brescianelli,
and this could well be an indication of the presence of a highly
skilled bassoonist at the court.
1729 the new prince-archbishop of Würzburg re-established the
court orchestra, which now comprised no fewer than 49 members.
Platti returned to Würzburg, and in 1732 he was appointed second
violinist and Kammertenor. The appreciation of his employers
through the years, his excellent salary and his marriage to
Maria Theresia Lambrucker, first soprano in the court chapel,
were all good reasons to stay the rest of his life in Würzburg,
despite the fact that it wasn't exactly one of the main cultural
centres of Germany.
programme on this disc has been well put together, guaranteeing
a maximum of variation in scoring. All sonatas played here follow
the pattern of the Italian sonata da chiesa, with its
four movements in a sequence of slow-fast-slow-fast. They combine
Italian and German elements: the former are present in the slow
expressive movements, the latter in particular in the virtuosic
character of the fast movements.
very first track shows Platti's compositional skills as a beautiful
theme is the subject of a dialogue of violin and oboe. Short
pauses here and there contribute to the expressive character
of this movement. The second movement (allegro) of the Sonata
for oboe, cello and bc in g minor is very dramatic and its gets
a strong gestural performance here. It is followed by another
wonderfully expressive movement (adagio). The largo of the Sonata
in G contains great tension with its remarkable melodic development
in both parts, and the repeated falling figures.
Sonata for oboe and bc in c minor begins with a very speech-like
adagio assai. The whole sonata contains suspiratio figures
which isn't surprising considering the key of c minor. The same
key is used in the last sonata on this disc. In particular the
last movement is dark and dramatic. At the same time the qualities
of both instruments are fully explored in this sonata, and the
bassoonist has to use almost the complete range of his instrument.
between the two sonatas in c minor we hear the Sonata for cello
and bc in d minor. In particular in the second movement (allegro)
the cello part is brilliant, with sharp accents. The following
adagio then sounds very relaxed. This is a very nice sonata
which is played with panache by Ilze Grudule, who also impresses
with her engaging performances in other sonatas.
is characteristic of the performances as a whole. We have a very
good ensemble here, whose members show great technical skills,
but who also fully explore the qualities of Platti's music. Listening
to this disc one really wonders why it has taken so long for his
music to be discovered. May we see more recordings with his music
in the future. Anyone who likes to broaden his musical horizons,
and anybody wanting to listen to good music which he hasn't heard
many times before should not hesitate to purchase this disc.
Johan van Veen