Wednesday, 4 April 2012

International Baroque Players - Violin Concertos from Dresden, Pisendel and others

I was very fortunate to sing in a concert in the Brighton Early Music Festival 2011 with Emma Kirkby and the International Baroque Players, a chamber group of young musicians formed just two years prior.  I was blown away by their energy and enthusiasm, and their lively performances, and they have rapidly acquired a strong following.  

Their debut disc is an absolute joy, and focuses on violin concertos from Dresden, under the concertmaster Johann Georg Pisendel (1687-1755).  The musicians of the Dresden court were known and revered throughout Europe, and on the basis of the repertoire written for them, they must have been a highly talented ensemble.  The International Baroque Players’ leader, violinist Johannes Pramsohler, seems to have been responsible for researching the music performed here, most of which they have recorded for the first time.  There are concertos from the better known Handel (1685-1759), Telemann (1681-1767) and Fasch (1688-1758), as well as concertos from Pisendel himself, and one by Johann David Heinichen (1683-1729).  

The Handel work is in fact a Trio Sonata, arranged by Pisendel for chamber orchestra forces, so is another premiere.  The Telemann concerto, specifcally composed for Pisendel to perform, demonstrates what a virtuosic violinist he must have been, and he clearly inspired Telemann to write music more innovative and inspired than the bulk of his slightly workaday output, and the third movement, with the violin singing over a rippling accompaniment, is simply beautiful.  The Heinichen concerto has much in common with Vivaldi, but it is nevertheless a very enjoyable work, with plenty of opportunity for the violin to show off.  Pisendel’s own concerto finishes off the disc in an appropriately virtuosic and joyful fashion.  These players show without a shadow of a doubt how historically informed performance on original instruments can be performed with real spirit and energy – this CD is highly recommended, and if you can catch them live, even better – look out for them in BREMF 2012!

Pisendel, Johann Georg et al. Pisendel: Violin Concertos from Dresden, International Baroque Players, Johannes Pramsohler. 2012. Compact Disc. Raumklang RK3105. 

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