These four concertos are taken from a set of six published in 1724/25 as
"Concertos pour la flute transversiere avec la Basse chifrée. The
use of the translated term "concertos" is perhaps misleading, as they are
mostly for a soloist with harpsichord accompaniment, without a ritornello
string band; they consist of numerous (between 12 and 20) dance movements,
each lasting form 24 seconds to 3 minutes. The term "suites" would
probably convey a more accurate impression.
Whilst scored for the transverse flute, the title page of the contemporary
editions indicates that some of these concertos can alternatively be
played on the violin, oboe or flute a bec (recorder); a common enough practice
in the 17th and 18th Centuries. For the present recording, the music has
been adapted by Antonio Frige for the natural trumpet. Certainly Gabriele
Cassone's performance of these pieces shows off his mastery of the instrument
with virtuostic playing in the high clarino register to breathtakingly
brilliant effect. Equally certainly, the trumpet is an ideal instrument for
the 5th Concerto (the forst one recorded) subtitled "La Guerre": it is
exciting militaristic music in which the effect is heightened with
addition of trumpets and tympani from the Ensemble "Pian e Forte".
The use of trumpet in the other three concertos is less successful; the music
of the third and fourth concertos cries out loud for performance on the flute
as originally scored (indeed much of it reminds the listener of Bach's B
minor suite!), whilst the sixth concerto, "la Paix", could very suitably
use the oboe.
The harpsichord's contribution to these concertos is considerable. About
a quarter of the concerto movements are for harpsichod solo in which Antonio
Frige displays skilled accomplishment. The intricate ornamentation is faithfully
rendered in the authentic style of 17th Century France.
My main reservation about this recording is that the tempi of many of the
movements are far too slow. These "concertos" are in reality dance suites
with bright dancing rhythms; unfortunately the slow pulses rob them of their
innate vivacity. A simple increase in tempo would bring them wondrously to
There is much to admire in these recordings - especially the virtuosity of
both the natural trumpet and harpsichord playing. It is such a pity that
they so often fail to realise the composer's intentions.
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