Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dall'Abaco: Concerti for Strings - Capella Coloniensis

Evaristo Felice Dall'Abaco
Concerti for Strings
Capella Coloniensis, Günther Wich, Hanns-Martin Schneidt
Phoenix Edition 190

Distinctly individual works in the tradition of the Italian baroque concerto.

In that huge diaspora of Italian musicians which characterises so much in the history of Baroque music, whereby instrumentalists and composers spread across the courts and cities of transalpine Europe, Evaristo dall’Abaco is a relatively unusual case. For the most part the Italian musicians who relocated to Spain or Sweden, London or Vienna, were primarily agents in the spreading of Italian styles and musical aesthetics. In the case of dall’Abaco we have, however, a musician who strikingly absorbed the non-Italian models he encountered and accommodated himself to tastes that were not merely Italianate.

Evaristo dall’Abaco was born in Verona - he died in Munich - he was born on 12 July 1675 and died on 12 July sixty five years later. His father was a prominent jurist, but also a player of the guitar and encouraged the son’s musical abilities and he studied both violin and cello. By 1696 he was working in Modena. In the light of dall’Abaco’s later development it is interesting to note that the conductor (Monsieur Ambreville) of the court orchestra in Modena was French. The next record of dall’Abaco seems to be in 1704, when he was working as a cellist at the Bavarian court. Military defeats in the War of the Spanish Succession forced dall’Abaco’s employer, Maximilian II of Emmanuel, elector of Bavaria, into exile in Brussels and later in Mons, before his eventual return to Munich in 1715. Accompanying his employer, dall’Abaco was exposed to the music of France, music that Maximilian clearly found very much to his taste. Gradually dall’Abaco’s own compositions showed increasing signs of French influence.

For all its responsiveness to French examples - responding both to his employer’s tastes and to all the music he heard during his years in the Netherlands and France - dall’Abaco’s music was also firmly grounded in the tradition established by Corelli, although always handled with a certain independence of mind. Increasingly his concertos included French dance movements and characteristic qualities that Benjamin Ivry’s too brief booklet notes well describe as “light, fleet, self-contained, and discreet”. Increasingly (as, for example, in the concertos published in 1735) a manner one might sensibly describe as galant becomes noticeable. The results are intriguingly individual and should appeal to anyone who enjoys the tradition of the baroque concerto.

These were originally broadcasts by Westdeutschen Rundfunks Köln, with Cappella Coloniensis playing under various conductors. The recorded sound is occasionally lacking in the highest degree of clarity but is generally satisfactory. The playing of the Cappella Coloniensis is idiomatic, though their reading of some of the slower movements will seem rather on the lush side to ears attuned to some contemporary baroque ensembles.

Glyn Pursglove, MusicWeb International

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