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"Bologna 1666"

Julia Schröder, violina
Kammerorchester Basel
Dir: Julia Schröder

rec: Feb 10 - 12, 2016, Müllheim (D), Martinskirche
deutsche harmonia mundi - 88985315592 (© 2017) (66'35")
Liner-notes: E/D
Cover & track-list

anon: Concerto con violini In honorem Divi Petronii; Giuseppe Matteo ALBERTI (1685-1751): Concerto for violin, strings and bc in e minor, op. 1,7 (Tala 6)a [1]; Concerto for violin, strings and bc in g minor, op. 1,9 (Tala 16)a [1]; Giovanni Paolo COLONNA (1637-1695): La caduta di Gierusalemme sotto l'imperio di Sedecia ultimo re d'Israelle (sinfonia); Messa a 5 (sinfonia avanti la Messa); Girolamo Nicolò LAURENTI (1678-1751): Concerto for violin, strings and bc in e minor (Lau 6)a; Giacomo Antonio PERTI (1661-1756): Gesù al sepolcro (sinfonia); Giuseppe TORELLI (1658-1709): Concerto for violin, strings and bc in d minor (A.2.3.10)a; Sinfonia avanti l'Oratorio to Giacomo Antonio PERTI, La lingua profetica del taumaturgo di Paola Sinfonia to Giacomo Antonio PERTI, San Galgano Guidotti (attr); Lorenzo Gaetano ZAVATERI (1690-1764): Concerto for violin, strings and bc in G, op. 1,12a [2]

Sources: [1] Giuseppe Matteo Alberti, Concerti per chiesa e per camera, op. 1, 1713; [2] Lorenzo Gaetano Zavateri, Concerti da chiesa e da camera, op. 1, 1735

Julia Schröder, Regula Keller, Valentina Giusti, Mirjam Steymans-Brenner, Ewa Miribung, Regula Schwaar, Regula Schär, violin; Mariana Doughty, Anna Pfister, viola; Petr Skalka, Georg Dettweiler, cello; Daniel Szomor, double bass; Simon Linné, theorbo; David Blunden, harpsichord, organ

Unlike Venice, Rome or Naples Bologna is probably not counted among the main music centres of Italy in the baroque era. One name associated with Bologna is Giovanni Battista Martini, generally known as Padre Martini. He was an influential theorist and avid collector of music from the mid-18th century. Bologna is also associated with the Accademia Filarmonica, one of the main institutions of the baroque period which was founded in 1666. This explains the title of the present disc and the Accademia's 350th anniversary was likely the raison d'être of this recording.

Bologna played a key role in the development of two instruments. The first is the trumpet: in the second half of the 17th century the basilica of San Petronio was a centre of trumpet playing and composing for the instrument. The main composers of music for the trumpet were Petronio Franceschini, Domenico Gabrielli and Giuseppe Torelli. The former two were also reputed cellists and contributed to Bologna's developing into a centre of cello playing and composing. Torelli is generally considered the inventor of the solo concerto.

The programme of this disc omits any pieces which refer to the role of Bologna in the development of the trumpet and the cello. It rather focuses on the solo concerto, and especially that for the violin. Whereas Antonio Vivaldi is generally considered the greatest violinist and composer for his instrument from the first half of the 18th century, the composers represented here - all violinists by profession - seem to have been his equal in every way.

Torelli is the oldest in the programme. He possibly was a pupil of Bartolomeo Girolamo Laurenti - father of Girolamo Nicolò who is also represented here - and studied counterpoint with Giacomo Antonio Perti. They often cooperated: Perti almost exclusively composed vocal works and for the writing of the instrumental sections, especially the sinfonias which opened his oratorios, he often turned to Torelli. The programme includes several specimens of such sinfonias, but also a solo concerto which has survived in manuscript. Torelli's op. 5 was the first collection which included concertos with a solo part for violin that clearly distinguished itself from the tutti. Giovanni Andrea Sechi, in his liner-notes, points out that the solo writing is "remarkably complex" and more adventurous than Torelli's published concertos. That is not surprising: printed editions were largely intended for amateurs and a concerto like the one recorded here was clearly beyond their capabilities.

The name Laurenti has already been mentioned. Giacomo Antonio was born into a dynasty of instrumentalists, singers and composers who were active in Bologna for about one hundred years. Bartolomeo Girolamo was a violinist who played in the orchestra of San Petronio; when he retired he was succeeded by Giacomo Antonio. He received lessons from his father, but was also a pupil of Torelli and Tomaso Antonio Vitali. In 1698 he was admitted to the Accademia Filarmonica, a token of his reputation. The same goes for the fact that four of his concertos were included in the library of the Dresden court chapel. One of these is the Concerto in e minor recorded here. It is in four movements; the first is notable for its dotted rhythm. The solo part is virtuosic and goes as high as the B''''.

Giuseppe Matteo Alberti - not related to Domenico, the inventor of the Alberti bass - was also a professional violinist. In 1705 he became a member of the Accademia Filarmonica and in 1709 entered the orchestra of San Petronio. In 1713 he published a set of ten Concerti per chiesa e per camera as his op. 1. Two concertos from this set are included here. Sechi observes Venetian influences, especially in his treatment of modulations. Also notable is that both concertos are in three movements, just like Vivaldi's concertos: fast - slow - fast.

That is also the case with the Concerto in G, the last from a set of twelve which Lorenzo Gaetano Zavateri published in 1735 and earned praise from the above-mentioned Padre Martini. Zavateri was a pupil of Torelli and performed in several towns across Italy, including Venice. In 1717 he became a member of the Accademia Filarmonica and also was involved in performances of the San Petronio orchestra. Only five of the twelve concertos op. 1 include solo parts for the violin. The Concerto in G has the addition a tempesta di mare and is comparable with Vivaldi's descriptive concertos. In his depiction of a storm in the fast movements he certainly measures up to Vivaldi.

The latest piece, which also closes this disc, is anonymous; the Concerto con violini in honorem Divi Petronii has come down to us as a manuscript with the initials O.P.. So far no musicologist has been able to identify this person. The title indicates that it was written for the feast of St Petronius, patron saint of Bologna. It is for strings in four parts and has no solo part. The liner-notes don't mention when it was written, but it seems to date from the time of Padre Martini. He was known for his strong preference for the traditional counterpoint, in a time that melody was considered the foundation of music. This anonymous concerto bears witness to that; there is hardly any counterpoint here and the strings largely play in parallel motion.

With that piece we are at the end of a journey which started with a Sinfonia from the pen of Giovanni Paolo Colonna, who from 1662 to 1695 was maestro di cappella at San Petronio; after his death he was succeeded by Perti. Like the latter he almost exclusively composed vocal music; his two sinfonias performed here show the counterpoint which is absent from the Concerto con violini just discussed.

Julia Schröder and the Kammerorchester Basel play both period and modern instruments. For programmes like this they turn to baroque instruments and do so quite successfully. I have not always been unequivocally positive about their recordings, but this is definitely a very good one. Schröder's technique is impressive, but stylististically she is also convincing. The virtuosity of some pieces has not resulted in demonstrative extravagancies in order to impress an audience.

This disc is a model of good music making and the fact that the programme mostly includes pieces which are hardly known or not known at all makes it all the more attractive.

Johan van Veen (© 2017)

Relevant links:

Julia Schröder
Kammerorchester Basel


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