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.

Friday, August 5, 2016

A personal reading of Vivaldi's cello sonatas

A second set of 14 albums will be re-released this September in Alpha's Essential Baroque Masterpieces series, including Marco Ceccato's Vivaldi Cello Sonatas originally released in 2014 on Zig Zag Territoires. These are packages in handsome uniform designs with informative liner notes.

This album includes a selection of Vivaldi's great op. 14 set of sonatas for cello & continuo, played here by Accademia Ottoboni (featuring Anna Fontana, harpsichord, Francesco Romano, theorbo & guitar, Rebeca Ferri, cello, and Matteo Coticoni, double bass). This was very well reviewed at the time of its original release, but let's give it a close listen now.

According to Ceccato's new liner essay, he went back to the original manuscripts in some cases:
I preferred to base the music on the manuscripts which most accurately reflect Vivaldi’s conception. The edition published in Paris by Le Clerc is, in fact, not always faithful to the original. Apart from revising some of the bowings, in the second movement of the Sonata in F Major Le Clerc even omitted half a beat to ‘adjust’ Vivaldi’s asymmetry, making it more symmetrical and, in his opinion, easier to listen to. 
Here is that movement from op. 14 no. 2 (RV 41), played by Lucia Swarts from a 2007 Challenge Classics release:

And here is Ceccato's much spikier version (from the original release):

I often prefer the raw to the cooked when it comes to music, and definitely in this case.  On the other hand, Ceccato isn't afraid to add some flourishes which sound less authentic. Listen to the swoops just after 2:00 in the lovely Sarabande of the 9th sonata. Over-indulgent? Maybe a bit, but I love it!

Overall, I'm impressed with Ceccato's very personal view of this music, and also with the varied and imaginative continuo provided by his colleagues. This disc is a standout in a crowded field of very good performances of great music.

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