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"Passion and Craftmanship - Baroque chamber music from both sides of the Alps"

Accademia Amsterdam

rec: August 28 - 30, 2010, Eenum (Neth), NH Kerk
Centaur - CRC 3166 (© 2011) (60'25")
Liner-notes: E
Cover & track-list

Willem DE FESCH (1687-1761): Sonata in g minor, op. 12,2 [5]; Carolus HACQUART (c1640-1701?): Sonata V a 3 in c minor, op. 2,5 [2]; Pietro Antonio LOCATELLI (1695-1764): Sonata in F, op. 8,1 [4]; Giuseppe SAMMARTINI (1693-1751): Sonata in C, op. 2,2 [3]; Jan Pieterszoon SWEELINCK (1562-1621): Pavana Lachrimaea; Francesco TURINI (c1589-1656): Sonata a 3 in a minor 'Il Corisino' [1]; Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741): Concerto in D (RV 92); Unico Wilhelm VAN WASSENAER (1692-1766): Sonata I in F

[1] Francesco Turini, Madrigali con alcune sonate, libro I, 1621; [2] Carolus Hacquart, Harmonia Parnassia Sonatarum, op. 2, 1686; [3] Giuseppe Sammartini, 12 Sonate, op. 2, c1736/37; [4] Pietro Antonio Locatelli, X sonate, op. 8, 1744; [5] Willem de Fesch, Twelve Sonatas, op. 12, 1748

Onno Verschoor, recorder, oboe; Jan Pieter van Coolwijk, violin; Alessandra Montani, cello; Fabio Ciofini, harpsichorda, organ

On this disc Accademia Amsterdam juxtaposes "passion" and "craftsmanship": "How passionate are Italians and thorough the Dutch? Is it perhaps the other way round?", Onno Verschoor writes in his liner-notes.

The programme focuses on two regions: Italy and the Low Countries. The programme begins with two composers from the early 17th century. Sweelinck is a bit of a Fremdkörper, as he didn't compose any instrumental music other than for the keyboard. Although he was clearly influenced by the Italian keyboard music of his time, the connection between this piece and the rest of the programme is rather loose. Francesco Turini is one of the main representatives of the concertante style in Italy. His Sonata Il Corisino is an early example of the trio sonata and has a texture which was quite popular in the 17th century: two treble instruments and a bass instrument which also participates in the realisation of the basso continuo. Here the bass part is played on the cello, which seems questionable. However, the identity of the string bass in early 17th-century Italy is a rather complicated issue.

The rest of the programme comprises music by Dutch composers who were under the influence of the Italian style and music by Italian composers some of whom had connections to the Netherlands. The latter goes for Locatelli who for many years lived in Amsterdam and was one of the great violin virtuosos of his time. His own style of playing wasn't universally appreciated, and some of his compositions are probably a bit too much about virtuosity for virtuosity's sake. The Sonata in F, op. 8,1 is a fine piece, though, and Jan Pieter van Coolwijk plays it beautifully, with marked dynamic accents, especially in the second movement. Vivaldi can also be connected to the Netherlands, and in particular Amsterdam, where many of his concertos were printed. In 1738 he was in Amsterdam where he conducted a festive opening concert for the 100th anniversary of the Schouwburg Theater. The Concerto in D (RV 92) belongs to a group of concerti da camera which date from the early stage of his career. Here again the bass instrument - for which the cello and the bassoon are mentioned as alternatives - participates in the basso continuo and the melodic development.

That is also the case in the Sonata V in c minor by Carolus Hacquart, who was born in the southern Netherlands, but settled in Amsterdam because of the United Provinces' prosperity and later moved to The Hague. His Harmonia Parnassia Sonatarum comprises ten sonatas for strings in which the string bass is meant to be played by the viola da gamba. Strictly speaking there is no objection to a performance with oboe, violin and cello, but the equal treatment of the string bass comes off better in the original scoring. Whereas in his music for the theatre, such as De triomfeerende min, Hacquart was inspired by French fashion, especially Lully's operas, these sonatas are in Italian vein.

The same goes for the Sonata I in F by Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer who is best-known for his Concerti Armonici which for a long time were attributed to either Pergolesi or Ricciotti. Being an aristocrat he was not supposed to compose music which explains the confusion of the authorship of his concertos. The sonata is one of three for recorder and bc, and is a mixture of the sonata da chiesa and the sonata da camera in the style of Corelli. Giuseppe Sammartini was considered the greatest oboe virtuoso of his time and played in England for a number of years. His Sonata in C, op. 2,2 is a very inspired work of considerable virtuosity. Very nice is the tremolo effect in the second movement which reminds me of the voce umana of Italian organs. I don't know whether this was indicated by the composer or added as an ornament by Onno Verschoor. In the opening movement the rhythmic pulse is particularly well exposed, and the sonata ends with a joyful allegro. Onno Verschoor gives an outstanding performance, here on the oboe, elsewhere on the recorder.

In this sonata we find the traces of the post-baroque fashion, for instance in the grouping of the three movements. The same is the case in the sonata by Locatelli and in the Sonata in g minor, op. 12,2 by Willem de Fesch, a Dutch-born composer who made a career in England. Italian music was particularly popular there, and De Fesch was one of its foreign exponents, as this sonata shows. It is also in three movements: slow - fast - fast, as would become standard in the mid-18th century.

In his liner-notes Onno Verschoor doesn't answer the question I quoted above. The performances do. Music without craftmanship is bad music, music without passion is dull. The music on this disc is neither. It is the task of the performers to bring that out, and that is exactly what the members of Accademia Amsterdam do here. The inclusion of several little-known pieces only adds to the attraction of this disc.

Johan van Veen (© 2012)

Relevant links:

Accademia Amsterdam

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