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Giuseppe Antonio BRESCIANELLO (1690 - 1758): "Concerti à 3, Vol. 1"

Der musikalische Garten

rec: June 24 - 26, 2016, Freiburg, Ensemblehaus
Coviello Classics - COV 91705 (© 2017) (67'27")
Liner-notes: E/D
Cover, track-list & booklet

Concerto I in B flat; Concerto II in G; Concerto III in g minor; Concerto IV in E flat; Concerto V in A; Concerto VI in b minor

Germán Echeverri Chamorro, Karoline Echeverri-Klemm, violin; Annekatrin Beller, cello; Daniela Niedhammer, harpsichord

In the late 17th and the early 18th centuries many aristocrats came under the spell of the splendour at the French court in Versailles. They tried to copy it, including the musical culture which was one its features. The main representative of the latter was Jean-Baptiste Lully. Some aristocrats wanted their court chapel to play French music. One of them was Eberhard Ludwig IV of Württemberg. He stayed in Paris around 1700 and that must have made a huge impression. This could explain why Giuseppe Antonio Brescianelli, his Kapellmeister, who was appointed in this position in 1721, composed quite some music in the French style, both orchestral overtures and chamber music.

His appointment followed years of quarrels within the court chapel. Brescianello, who was either from Bologna or from Venice, entered the service of the Duke in 1716 as musique directeur, maître des concerts de la chambre. He had set his eyes on the position of Kapellmeister, though, but there was some stiff competition from Reinhard Keiser, who arrived in 1719 and stayed in Stuttgart for over a year. Brescianello insisted, that he had been promised a higher position. Moreover, as a director of the chapel he would be in a better position to attract players and determine the repertoire. The players were heavily divided: the Germans preferred Keiser, whereas the growing number of Italian players took the side of Brescianello. In 1721 the latter was appointed Kapellmeister.

Only one collection from his pen was published: a set of twelve Concerti et Sinphonie, which was printed as his Op. 1 in Amsterdam in 1738. The twelve Concerti à 3, which are the subject of the present disc, have been preserved in manuscript in Florence. They must have been written well before Brescianello entered the service of the Duke of Württemberg. However, it is impossible to establish when and where they were written. Nothing at all is known about Brescianello's formative years or his first activities as a violinist or a composer.

These pieces are scored for two violins and basso continuo. They follow the model of the Corellian sonata da chiesa, and open with a slow movement, followed by a fugue in a fast tempo. Next is another slow movement and the sonata closes with a dance-like movement in a fast tempo. The two violins are treated on equal footing, with the exception of the second movement from the Concerto II where the first violin rises to prominence and has a cadenza in the closing section.

Several movements include some notable harmonic progressions, for instance the closing allegro from Concerto I and the adagio cantabile from Concerto V which has a pastoral character. Brescianello also makes use of chromaticism, for instance in the closing presto from Concerto III. The second movement from the same concerto includes frequent chromatically descending figures. Notable are also the meandering lines of the two violins in the opening largo from Concerto VI.

These six concertos - the first half of the set - are full of interesting and different musical ideas. That is one of the reasons they are entertaining and keep the listener's attention. It seems that Brescianello was well appreciated in his time, and it is not hard to understand why that was the case. In recent years several discs have been released with music from his pen, but this disc seems to be the first recording of these pieces of chamber music. The present disc is announced as Vol. 1, which indicates that the remaining six concertos will be released as well. That is good news, because these pieces are of fine quality and they receive splendid performances. Der musikalische Garten is a relatively young ensemble which in the few years of its existence has made quite an impression. That is easy to understand, listening to these energetic and expressive performances. I hope to hear their next disc soon.

Johan van Veen (© 2017)

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