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Pietro LOCATELLI (1695-1764)
Concerti Grossi Op. 1 (pub. 1721)
Concerto No. 11 in C minor [10:15]
Concerto No. 8 in F minor Pastorale [14:21]
Concerto No. 7 in F major [8:00]
Concerto No. 2 in C minor [9:49]
Concerto No. 9 in D major [11:04]
Concerto No. 4 in E minor [7:24]
Freiburger Barockorchester/Gottfried von der Goltz
rec. December 2004, Teldex Studio, Berlin, Germany
HARMONIA MUNDI HMA1951889 [61:03]

Like so many sets of Baroque concerti grossi, Locatelli’s Opus 1 is indebted to Corelli’s pioneering example. Locatelli’s eighth even constitutes another ‘Christmas’ concerto with a pastoral movement as its finale representing the shepherds’ playing on their pipes as they come to the newly-born Christ child, similar also to the sinfonias in Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and Handel’s Messiah. The Pastorale receives a quietly lilting performance here from the Freiburger Barockorchester, setting in relief the otherwise sombre tone of the rest of that Concerto.

Gottfried von der Goltz directs thoughtful performances of the half dozen concertos featured on this disc, not necessarily with Italianate flair, but that is not to suggest in any way that they lack character or nuance. Indeed, Goltz is alert to the fact that many of the movements are dances or clearly derive inspiration from dance forms even in the supposedly abstract and serious forms of the movements in the concerti da chiesa. There is an emphatic rhythmic attack on the Allemanda of No. 11, the opening
Adagio of no. 4, and on the robust dotted rhythm of no. 9 like a French overture. The Sarabandas of both nos. 9 and 11 are graceful, demonstrating how the ensemble is able to cultivate a heightened emotional atmosphere in such slow movements, whether wistful or tragic, through integrating the contrapuntal textures sensitively without resorting to exaggeration or excess. The 18 members of the Freiburger Barockorchester can provide a warm body of sound in the ripieno sections, but equally they remain supple in a movement such as no. 11’s concluding Giga which they play with vibrant fluency rather than any ungainly leaping around. The violin solos – presumably from von der Goltz, though they are not explicitly credited – are carried elegantly over the orchestral texture, not in confrontation with it.

In this reissue the disc itself is made to look like a vinyl record with a black grooved label and dark underside. The one cause for regret is that these forces do not seem to have recorded the remaining concertos in this set. But this still a worthwhile means to explore the work of a composer and violinist whose fame, in his day, stretched around Europe more widely than that of his older contemporary Vivaldi.

Curtis Rogers


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