Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Great instrument; great music-making


Peter Sheppard Skaerved's series The Great Violins on Athene began with the May 2016 release of a well-received double-CD Telemann disc, played on a beautiful 1570 Andrea Amati violin. According to the marketing material at the time, the series is projected to have at least 10 releases, which is great news for lovers of the violin. Back then the second volume was set to be another two-disc set, of the Bach music for solo violin, but I guess the opportunity to play a beloved instrument of his compatriot Ole Bull pushed that back to v3.

The violin in this case was made by Niccolò Amati (Andrea's grandson) in 1647. It was once owned by Ole Bull, who loved it so much he named it 'my Pearl'. All the pieces included in this CD, subtitled "an Ole Bull salon concert" are works Bull regularly included in his recitals to show off his Pearl and his own considerable talent. Here we have an opportunity in the 21st century to re-live those days (it's called a 'replica' concert in the liner notes), while experiencing Skaerved's own considerable musicianship and virtuosity. This is a more varied programme than the Telemann discs, and this is one of the things I like the best about it. Though not the kind of music I often listen to, there's so much simple, heartfelt melody here.


Here's a perfect example: Bull's lovely Aurora:


Accompanying Skaerved here is pianist Roderick Chadwick, who provides strong support in the Mozart and a handful of other pieces (on an unfortunately anonymous piano - I couldn't find any information about it). I'm really pleased that we're getting these innovative CD programmes from top artists lately. Projects such as this one and ReSound Beethoven give an additional layer of historical interest to the music, and when the music-making is as fine as this, that's a big bonus. Now on to Bach!

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