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Март 2007, журнал "Early Music Review"

Caro Mitis

I periodically surf the net for recordings of early music that we might have missed. Recently, spurred on by Dave Bellinger's enthusiasm for two Telemann CDs on a label that is not readily available in the United Kingdom (he had acquired his copies from the www.jpc.de), I went looking for Caro mitis. What I found was far more exciting than I had hoped for.
They kindly sent me six recordings from their growing catalogue for review and this page reflects my very positive reaction to the performances and the product. It is important to state from the start that the presentation of these high quality SACDs is exceptional: the glossy booklets and the discs themselves are taken from lovely engravings. Something that I cannot personally comment on (as I don't really have an ear for such things) is the exceptional sound quality - the recordings are made in the 5th Studio of RTR (The Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Company) in Moscow by a team that includes several Dutchmen. The results are remarkable, and it seems all the more bizarre that some UK distributor has not leapt at the chance to import the catalogue.
All six programmes involve the absolutely first-class Russian orchestra, Pratum Integrum, whose performances are all the more notable for being unconducted. The repertoire ranges from a violin/cello duet (which would obviously never need a conductor [though see my John Beckett obituary! CB]) to full-scale symphonies. Each of the discs has something in common with the others - at least one work in every programme is a first recording.
Working through the discs chronologically, we start with D. Bortnyansky - The Italian Album (CM 0042003). In a recent issue, I recommended that Ashgate, the publisher of a recent book on iS^-century Russian music, might team up with a CD company to co-market the repertoire: I'd just like to make them VERY aware of Caro mitis and Pratum Integrum, because Bortnyansky's music can never have been heard as accomplished as this! The programme includes the sinfonia and a soprano aria from his opera tt Quinto Fabio, four motets, a canzonetta and another operatic aria. The motets are sung by three professional singers, two of them with a group consisting of five boys and four men.
The companion Bortnyansky - The Russian Album (CM 0052003) is an instrumental disc, including a march for wind instruments, the Sinfonia concertante of 1790 for pianoforte, harp, two violins, viola da gamba, bassoon and cello (!), three keyboard sonatas, the quintet for piano- forte, harp, violin, viola da gamba and cello (1787) and the first movement of a harpsichord concerto. The first track is a world premiere recording and the rest are the first time these have appeared in the catalogue on period instruments. Besides the historical interest for such late appearances of the viola da gamba (and in such company), these lively performances really bring Bortnyansky's music to life.
Anton Ferdinand Tietz - Instrumental music (CM 0022004) is a beautiful disc. The five works are all recorded for the first time, and they are exceptionally well-crafted pieces: Sinfonia No. 4 opens, then the sixth string quintet, the afore-mentioned (and of concerto-like proportions) violin/cello duet, the fifth of his Op. i quartets and the composer's self-displaying Violin Concerto in E flat. Astonishingly, Tietz gets only very minimal passing references in the above-mentioned book on Russian music - a composer of this standard (and the performer that he must have been to play it) can only have had a very major impact on the development of music in that country and really ought to have been given more in-depth appraisal.
One of the discs that had been drawn to my attention in the first place, Telemann in Minor (CM 0042004), includes the first recording of his Orchestral suite in A minor (TWV 55: a 3) - unlike many other groups, Pratum Integrum are very good at clearly identifying the music they perform by reference to catalogues. Apart from the beloved concerto in E minor for flute, violin and strings (TWV 52: 63), the remainder of the listing is not terribly well-known: another concerto in E minor for two flutes and violin (TWV 53: ei), the F minor sonata for five-part strings and continue (TWV 44:32), and another work in the same genre but in B flat major (TWV 44: 34), just to vary the modality, I suppose!
The group's next recording was Telemann in Major (CM 0032005) which includes no fewer than four world premiere recordings. The programme includes one concerto each for solo flute(TWV 51: Ei) and violin 64), a concerto grosso for two flutes and bassoon with strings (TWV 53: Gi), as well as one for strings (TWV 55:64), a fun orchestral suite in B flat where both the composer and the performers let their hair down, and finally a sonata for five-part strings and continue (TWV 44:33), that breaks with the CD title and is based in the minor!
The company's latest offering is entitled Antologia (CM 0052006, 69' 39") and is devoted to the fine music of Giovanni Benedetto Platti. Of course the recital includes a cello concerto, but it is a first recording, as is the case with the D major harpsichord concerto and the trio sonata in B flat for violin, cello and continuo. The other works on the disc are a G minor oboe concerto (played by no less a virtuoso than Alfredo Bernardini) and an A major violin concerto.

Brian Clark

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