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Transcriptions for Strings and Organ of the Historical Twentieth-Century
Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936)
Chaconne of Tommaso Vitali (1911) [12:35]
Arcangelo CORELLI (1653-1713)
Concerto grosso, Op.6: No.8 in G: Pastorale (1714) arr. Arnold Schering (1913) [4:32]
Giovanni TEBALDINI (1864-1952)
Fugue attrib. Girolamo Frescobaldi (1802) derived from a song by Gottlieb Moffat arr. Tebaldini (1931) [4:23]
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
L’Estro Armonico; Concerto No.11 in D minor: Largo (1711) arr. Hjalmar von Dameck [2:46]
Sonata in C: Largo arr. Arnold Schering (1904)
Pietro LOCATELLI (1695-1764)
Sinfonia Funebre, composed for the obsequies of his Woman, celebrated in Rome (1720s) arr. Arnold Schering under the title ‘Trauersymphonie’ (1920) [14:14]
Tomaso ALBINONI (1671-1751)
Adagio arr. and reconstr. Remo Giazotto (1945) [9:26]
Cardenio BOTTI (1890-1973)
Elegia [4:50]
Abigeila Voshtina (solo violin)
I Solisti Laudensi/Fabio Merlini (organ and director)
rec. April 2014, Church of St Antonio Abate Costa D’Oneglia
TACTUS TC900004 [57:40]

This album of transcriptions for strings and organ owes it genesis partly to the restoration of the Vegezzi-Bossi organ in the Church of San Antonio Abate, Costa D’Oneglia, in Liguria. This was a project enthusiastically supported by I Solisti Laudensi and their director Fabio Merlini. Their contribution, as well as that of the Tactus label, is happily saluted in the booklet note by the Archpriest of Saint Antonio.

I quite like the programme. Any recital in which all the composers’ surnames end in ‘i’ is almost certainly full of good tunes. The only shame is that the recording set-up has completely failed to deal with the church acoustic. Settling down for Respighi’s elaboration of what used to be called Vitali’s Chaconne is an unnerving experience. Think back to the recording Heifetz made of the violin and organ version – one of his very greatest and most thrilling – and then imagine its aural opposite. The organ and strings here are set very far back spatially and the sound billows in the big acoustic like fog across the moors. Therefore the string mass tends to muddy and not clarify, although to be fair the counter-themes inject rich variety into the fabric. Corelli’s Concerto from his Op.6 set is heard in the arrangement by the German violinist and musicologist Arnold Schering. Rendered as the Pastorale it is immensely charming and likeable though here, alas, rendered less so by the unflattering acoustic. Giovanni Tebaldini’s Fugue, once attributed to Frescobaldi, is actually based on some vocal works by Gottlieb Muffat and has a well-conveyed natural dignity of expression. Hjalmar von Dameck was responsible for the arrangement of Vivaldi’s Largo for violin and organ but it’s the striking dissonances of the funerary music by (possibly) Locatelli that draws the ear in particular. Once again this is a Schering arrangement and the consolatory nature of the music is most affecting. Albinoni’s Adagio – that is to say Remo Giazotto’s work on a surviving fragment – is taken at a thoughtful tempo and is very expressively done. The Elegia by Cardenio Botti, who died in 1973, ends the disc on a moving note.

Abigeila Voshtina is the ensemble’s solo violinist and she plays well. I Solisti Laudensi is a small group – a string quartet plus bass and they are effective. The billowing acoustic duly inflates their sound in things like the Albinoni. Presiding over all, Merlini is both organist and director. It should certainly be noted that all these particular arrangements – bar the Albinoni – are apparently making their first-ever appearance on disc. The more common Respighi arrangement is that for solo violin and organ and not, as here, solo violin, strings and organ. With a good booklet note these are major plusses. The recorded sound is more than a bit of a minus.

Jonathan Woolf


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