Venice to Hamburg: CD Review

Written By: Stephanie Dyer Comments: 0

Venice to Hamburg: CD Review

The Bach Players: Nicolette Moonen, Gawain Glenton, Emily White Krzysztof LewandowskiLynda Sayce and Silas Wollston. (Hyphen Press)

This ninth CD by a deceptively titled ‘The Bach Players’ is the ensemble’s debut release of early-Baroque repertoire. Played on period instruments – violin, cornett and cornettino, trombone (‘sackbut’), bassoon (‘dulcian’), theorbo, organ and harpsichord – the non-Bach disc is an evocative musical voyage showcasing works of Italian and German composers, from Venice’s ‘stylus fantasticus’, across the Alps to the Habsburg Empire and then to Hamburg.

Of particular interest to the trombonist are five tutti tracks and a duo by Valentini, featuring Emily White on sackbut. Valentini’s Sonata displays fast virtuosity alongside exquisite delicacy, whilst Marini’s ‘La Rizza’ exhibits rich, luxurious duets between sackbut and dulcian. Instruments are often paired in the jaunty ‘La Cariolatta’ by Schmelzer, where improvisatory moments demonstrate the mellifluous sound of the sackbut with violin. Expansive sections contrast the otherwise active Weckmann Sonata no.3, busy with passaggi and trills across the registers. Sonata no.9, also by Weckmann, quite rightly concludes the CD as by far the most intriguing composition, boasting angular leaps and percussiveness. Valentini’s Canzon features White with cornettist Gawain Glenton, where the instruments intertwine in this sweet, dance-like miniature. White’s seemingly effortless mastery and supreme musicianship throughout is exemplary.

The Bach Players

Despite the range of compelling repertoire a greater variety of tonality would help to enliven the CD even more: there are only two pieces on the release in a key other than D or G. An occasional departure from the constant continuo team of theorbo and chamber organ – perhaps to harpsichord – would achieve more diversity, particularly as harpsichord is already used but only as a solo instrument. Although the track order blurs the musical journey, the performances are stylish and affective.

The Bach Players have certainly produced a fine release, making a valuable addition to the Historical Performance recording canon and promoting trombone playing at its finest.

For more details and to purchase Venice to Hamburg please visit the the Hyphen Press website, here

Review by Stephanie Dyer.

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