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Johan Helmich ROMAN (1694 - 1758): "Trios"

Ensemble Dulcis in Fundo

rec: [n.d.], Preganziol, Magister Area Studios
Discantica - 239 ( 2011) (53'23)
Liner-notes: E/I
Cover & track-list

Trio in C (BeRI 114); Trio in c minor (BeRI 109); Trio in d minor (BeRI 106); Trio in F (BeRI 110); Trio in f minor (BeRI 117); Trio in g minor (BeRI 115)

Olga Bernardi, Andrea Marcialis, recorder; Stefano Sopranzi, bassoon; Marcello Rossi, harpsichord

Johan Helmich Roman is the first Swedish-born composer in history and played a crucial role in music life in his country. He was educated by his father at the violin and entered the court orchestra at the age of seven. From 1715 to 1721 he stayed in London, where he played in the orchestra of the Royal Academy of Music under Handel and became acquainted with the most prominent Italian composers of the time, such as Geminiani, Bononcini and Veracini. This had a considerable influence on his development as a composer.

There is nothing particular Swedish in Roman's music, and that certainly goes for the sonatas the Ensemble Dulcis in Fundo has recorded. They were originally scored for two violins and bc and are adapted here for two recorders. This also means that they needed to be transposed. They all follow the structure of the Corellian sonata da chiesa with four movements. A considerable number of movements have no tempo indication, but according to convention the players perform them in a sequence of slow-fast-slow-fast.

Several movements include daring harmonic progressions, for instance the opening andante from the Sonata in f minor (BeRI 117) and the third movement from the Sonata in c minor (BeRI 109), here played as a larghetto. Some movements contain long passages for the two treble instruments without the participation of the basso continuo, such as the closing movements from the Sonata in d minor (BeRI 106) and the Sonata in f minor (BeRI 117) and the second movement from the Sonata in C (BeRI 114). The two last movements from the latter sonata are quite capricious. In his very concise liner-notes Sergio Balestracci states that Roman's music "anticipates in many ways the German Empfindsamkeit aesthetics". I wonder whether that includes these sonatas. Frankly, I haven't noticed it; these seem to me typical baroque trio sonatas.

I would like to hear them in their original scoring, but in this adaptation they do quite well. That is also due to the fine performances of this ensemble. This recording is the result of them winning First Prize at the Competition for Recorder and Chamber Music with Recorder awarded by the ERTA (European Recorder Teachers' Association) Italia in 2009. That seems well deserved: the ensemble is excellent, the tone of the recorders nice to the ear and the interpretation is vivid and full of contrast. The rhythmic pulse of these sonatas comes especially well to the fore: listen to the swinging second movement from the Sonata in d minor.

The Ensemble Dulcis in Fundo could hardly present themselves better than with this disc.

Johan van Veen ( 2014)

Relevant links:

Ensemble Dulcis in Fundo

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