There’s that increasing
rarity: a Baroque disc with no conceptual axe to grind, no overarching theme –
save for giving members of The English Concert a concerto moment in the sun –
and seemingly out to do little more than delight (which it does so in spades).
Listeners determined to winkle out a seam of didacticism might note that the
composers are pretty much all of the same generation, and that four of the five
are Italian, suggesting a plausible snapshot of the concerto in its originating
natural habitat. But then Dall’abaco carved out a niche for himself in Munich;
Porpora spent a decade in London locking operatic horns with ★andel; and
Telemann’s Viola Concerto in G fumigates a Corellian poise with what its
composer gleefully described as ‘the smell of France’. (A slightly starchy Largo
aside, soloist Alfonso Leal del Ojo’s performance is the very model of debonair
It’s not the only ‘French
smell’ in prospect either. The Dall’abaco looks to Paris in a Ciaccona that
bounces along with knowing suavity, following which ★arry Bicket adroitly
segues into the jovial Rondeau without batting an eyelid. Galvanised,
buoyant, everything is moulded with scrupulous good taste and sparkle, and
Bicket’s measured tempo for the opening movement of the Marcello Oboe
Concerto allows Katharina Spreckelsen maximum expressive leeway, while
Joseph Crouch is certainly feeling the love in the aria-like Amoroso from
Porpora’s Cello Concerto in G.
on the disc for an extra concerto, but with such generous music-making, no one
need feel short-changed by its non appearance!