Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Charles Avison, Roy Goodman, The Brandenburg Consort|
Avison: 12 Concerti Grossi after Sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti (English Orpheus, Vol 28) /The Brandenburg Consort * Goodman
In the days before composers were protected by copyright laws, publishers, players, and other composers could steal whatever music they liked and pass it off as their own. Some of them, however, were slightly more honest... more »
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In the days before composers were protected by copyright laws, publishers, players, and other composers could steal whatever music they liked and pass it off as their own. Some of them, however, were slightly more honest, and others, like Avison, both honest and commercially astute. Scarlatti's 30 keyboard sonatas created a sensation when they were published in England. So Avison took them and arranged them as concertos for strings, thereby bringing the music to a wider public. In making these arrangements, Avison completely recomposed much of the music, adding his own ideas where necessary to create a balanced concerto form. The result is a fresh, entertaining collection, vivaciously performed here on "authentic" instruments. --David Hurwitz
Moves in the wrong direction
Eloi | Ely, NV USA | 05/07/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Sure, Avison was a nice guy to credit Domenico Scarlatti as the source for his arrangements--or else callously exploitative--there was no copyright in the 18th century. But Avison's concerti are definitely arrangements of, not original compositions based on, Scarlatti's sonatas. This is not Stravinsky-Pergolesi but Mussorgsky-Ravel, only with a much less talented version of Ravel.
Avison's arrangements smooth out (dumb down) the rhythmic and harmonic originality of the originals. Avison's versions make nice background music, but anyone interested in the ragged edges of the most original composer of the 18th century should listen to any solo keyboard rendition (say Pieter-Jan Belder's) of Scarlatti's K. 26 and compare it to the insipid version of Davison's Concerto #1, movement 4.
Avison's quest to make things too easy for the listener is only half of what I criticise. Another reviewer noted that Bach transcribed or took themes from his contemporaries. Think hard: how many of Bach's transcriptions or Fugues based on Vivaldi or Albinoni or Reinken can you remember? They are student works, steppingstones on the way to great original music like the Italian Concerto.
Sometimes a tight transcription of a work to a more restricted medium is good. The best performance I've ever heard of Mozart's Seranade in G, K 525 (Eine Kleine Nachtmusik) is that by the Guarneri Quartet with Bassist Julius Levine--one to a part! It's tight in a way no orchestra can ever achieve. But imagine Beethoven's C major Rasoumovsky Quartet IV, or whatever YOUR favorite quartet movement might be. Now imagine it played by a symphony string section. No matter if the conductor is Furtwaengler or whoever, the orchestra can never achieve the precision of one to a part.
Scarlatti wrote these sonatas for a solo keyboard player. They exploit the possibilities of the instruments (both harpsichord and Florentine piano) and the precision a single player can provide (yeah, listen again to Avison #1, IV--he calls it "Allegro" but Scarlatti called for "Presto").
So why do I give this recording 4 stars? The performance is excellent. I'd pay to hear that violinist do SOLO arrangements of Scarlatti sonatas that kept that solo edge. If you like well-shaped baroque string orchestral music with distinctive themes, this performance is excellent. But if you want to get with the most original genius of the generation of 1685, listen instead to a solo performance by piano, guitar, harpsichord that can recreate Scarlattispace."
A Fine Baroque Release (from a relatively unknown composer)
Johnny Bard | Orlando, FL | 02/12/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hyperion is a great label for unearthing little-known Baroque gems, and Roy Goodman (with his Brandenburg Consort) comes through again with their recording of Charles Avison's 12 Concerti Grossi (1744). Avison, a fine English composer, based his concertos on sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti (another Baroque composer). But Avison was by no means a plagerist. It wasn't uncommon for Baroque composers to build upon or rearrange the works of their contemporaries (Bach did this with some of Vivaldi's compositions). Here, Avison took Scarlatti's musical ideas and 'ran with them,' so to speak. The result: beautiful music that embodies the Baroque period. These 12 concertos are stately and elegant, and rank right up there with the works of Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi. Unfortunately, this 2-disc set is also expensive, so unless you love Baroque music, I'd focus on Bach, Vivaldi, etc., before purchasing these discs. But if you're interested in rounding out your Baroque collection, I would definitely recommend this exceptional recording."
Sean M. Kelly | Portland, Oregon United States | 04/22/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What makes this recording by the Brandenburg Consort wonderfully unique is the fact that the pieces are played on period-instruments versus more modern strings. This attention to detail gives this reading of Charles Avisons'works a wonderful resonance; indeed, Goodman's version had much life to it, as the faster movements are played with great spirit. The drawback of the recording, to some, is that some of the slower movements come across as a quite choppy. I personally do not feel that way, taking into consideration that Avison's linear writing style inherently makes the slower movements not as smooth as the faster movements. It does not detract from the overall feel from this fine recording.Meant more for the purists who would rather hear authentic period instruments, this cd is still highly recommended for those seeking out great Baroque period works. A wonderful disc."