Any eighteenth-century English gentleman wishing to signal his impeccable taste in music would often do so by referring to the works of Arcangelo Corelli, whose oeuvre was considered to be beyond reproach in matters of style and construction. The period saw an explosion of amateur musical societies all over the country. Gentlemen attending these societies could try their hand at fiddling and piping, and their meetings were usually enlivened by food, alcohol and tobacco. Between 1725 and 1750, over fifty clubs subscribed to Corelli reprints and publications.
When the German transverse flute found its place in Italy and was accepted by the Catholic church as a suitable replacement for the proscribed recorder, Antonio Vivaldi took to it with great enthusiasm. His flute concertos mark a point of departure, coming after he had completed his 40 bassoon concertos and virtually all of the string concertos. Although some of these pieces were reworkings of material previously composed for recorder, Vivaldi came to capitalize on new techniques he learned from Ignazio Siber, the flute instructor at the Ospedale della Pietà. Of Vivaldi's 15, the 7 flute concertos presented here were freshly written for the instrument. Each has a distinct character and the levels of virtuosity vary between them, but all are charming and rank among Vivaldi's freshest compositions. The most famous of these works is the expressive Concerto in D major, nicknamed "Il Gardellino," the only one of the flute concertos to be published in Vivaldi's lifetime. Flutist Janet See plays with a chaste tone, at times suggestive of the recorder's sound but more focused and controlled, especially in rapid passages. The Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, under Nicholas McGegan's direction, gives delicate support and transparent accompaniment to set off See's buoyant performance.(Blair Sanderson)
Here's a second release from Brilliant Classics of the Neapolitan musician Francesco Mancini (1672–1737), a leading light in his city's culture of composition and education as director of the Conservatorio di S Maria di Loreto, maestro of the Royal Chapel and composer of 29 operas and more than 200 cantatas. His modern reputation largely rests on his recorder sonatas (available on 94058); the new release extends our knowledge of that cheerful aesthetic to his recorder concertos, in similarly sprightly, periodinstrument performances by young musicians with a background in this repertoire.
Recorder virtuoso Maurice Steger, deftly assisted by The English Concert and Laurence Cummings, performs a sparkling program of concertos fashioned by the English adherents of Arcangelo Corelli from the Italian master’s visionary Violin Sonatas, Op.5. London around 1730: Although he never set foot on English soil and his compositions were already half a century old, Corelli was the absolute darling of London’s society. The musicians close to Handel soon realised that they were far more likely to succeed if they incorporated Corelli’s themes as opposed to only performing their own works. Variations on Corelli and new versions of his older pieces were soon de rigeur.
Known for his “impressive virtuosity” (La Presse), soloist Vincent Lauzer is featured in this new album devoted to Vivaldi recorder concertos. Lauzer is accompanied by Arion Baroque Orchestra under the direction of Alexander Weimann. Though Vivaldi composed more than 500 concertos, mostly for the violin, he also wrote concertos for wind instruments, including a number for the transverse flute and for recorder. Flutes and recorders were often as included as obbligato instruments in his sacred and secular vocal works.
Marion Verbruggen is known for her magnetic performances, which demonstrate not only her skills as a recorder player, but also her understanding of the repertoire. She makes playing the recorder look effortless, switching easily between the tenor-, alto-, and soprano-voiced instruments during any recital or concert. She can also play florid ornaments, crisp accents, and smoothly liquid passages while maintaining ideal breath control. Verbruggen adds subtlety of shading and vibrancy to her music, having what one reviewer called a "flip sense of articulation."
Musica Alta Ripa was founded in 1984. The recorder player Danya Segal, two violinists Anne Röhrig and Ursula Bundies, cellist Juris Teichmanis, and harpsichordist Bernward Lohr, all outstanding, sought-after musicians in their fields, joined forces to form an ensemble that owes its special aura to the commingling of their individual personalities.
Musica Alta Ripa’s high artistic quality, flexibility, and richness of color as well as the great appeal of its repertoire for some time now have made it a welcome guest at important concert venues and festivals such as the Herne Early Music Days, Bach Festival in Leipzig, Flanders Festival in Bruges, Casa de Mateus International Summer Academy of Early Music in Portugal, and Bach Festival in Philadelphia. The ensemble has undertaken concert tours to the Near East and to Southeast Asia and has concertized in cities such as Milan, London, and Bogotá.