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Giovanni Benedetto PLATTI (1697
Sonatas for Violoncello, Violin and Basso continuo
Sonata à 3 for violin, cello and bc (D-WD 683) [11:44]
Sonata à 3 for violin, cello and bc (D-WD 689) [11:34]
Ricercata I for violin and cello in D (D-WD 670) [11:57]
Sonata à 3 for violin, cello and bc (D-WD 678) [8:52]
Sonata XII for keyboard in C [10:59]
Ricercata II for violin and cello in A (D-WD 671) [8:42]
Sonata for violin, cello and bc in g minor [9:07]
Rüdiger Lotter (violin), Sebastian Hess (cello), Florian Birsak
rec. 26 - 28 August 2010, Church St Mauritius, Wiesentheid, Germany.
OEHMS CLASSICS OC836 [73:00]
"The good oboist from Würzburg, Platti, has stayed with
me for three days and I want to recommend this truly good fellow
for the Emperor's Court Chapel with his art, all of which is
quite commendable". Thus wrote Prince Rudolf Franz Erwein von
Schönborn-Wiesentheid to one of his brothers who at the
time held a high position at the court in Vienna. Whether he
really wanted Platti to go to Vienna is rather questionable
as the "good fellow" provided him with fine music which he could
play on his beloved cello. The music on this disc was very likely
written to be played by the two of them together. Platti was
educated as an oboist but could play several instruments, including
Platti was born in Venice and came to Würzburg, where he
was appointed oboist in the orchestra of the Prince-Archbishop
Lothar Franz von Schönborn. Only two years after his appointment,
in 1724, his employer died, and he was succeeded by one of his
brothers. He didn't care much for music, and therefore it was
a matter of good fortune for Platti and for Rudolf Franz Erwein,
also a brother of Lothar Franz, that he could spend some years
at the latter's court in Wiesentheid. The Prince was an avid
cellist and collected large amounts of music. His library has
survived and includes around 150 prints and about 500 manuscripts
of music. A large part of this library comprises music for cello
or compositions in which the cello plays a major part. He also
asked composers to write for his instrument. It is likely that
Antonio Caldara composed his 16 cello sonatas for the Prince,
who may also have commissioned some cello sonatas by Vivaldi.
In the three trio sonatas the violin and the cello are treated
on strictly equal terms. They are all in four movements, combining
elements of the Corellian sonata da chiesa and sonata
da camera. This also means that they are dominated by counterpoint.
The slow movements are often quite expressive, for instance
the sicilianas from the Trio sonatas D-WD 683 and 689.
The latter ends with a beautiful fugue, the former with a sparkling
gavotta. The Sonata D-WD 678 opens with an adagio
in which both instruments have a somewhat longer solo episode.
Otherwise there is much imitation and exchange of mostly quite
original thematic material in these sonatas. The latter sonata
comes to a close with a swinging giga. The Sonata
in g minor includes an expressive largho (sic) and
ends with an exuberant presto.
The scoring of these sonatas is not quite common for the time
they were written, although the combination of a treble and
a bass instrument was often practised in Germany, in particular
in pieces for violin, viola da gamba and bc. The scoring of
the four Ricercate is even less common. Originally they
were part of a set of six. As the Ricercata IV was originally
the sixth, we may conclude that two have been lost. The name
is derived from ricercare, a term which was often used
in the 16th and 17th century for pieces with an imitative character.
That is quite appropriate for these pieces as well: the two
instruments are again of equal standing, and regularly imitate
each other. They exchange leadership roles. They are in four
movements of different character. The Ricercata II, for
instance, begins with a subtle adagio, which is followed by
a brilliant allegro. In the next adagio the violin has some
double-stopping which is rather rare in Platti's music.
In the middle of the disc we find one of Platti's keyboard sonatas.
In his keyboard works he points in the direction of the new
fashions of the 18th century. It is because of this part of
his oeuvre that he is sometimes considered one of the pioneers
of the early classical style. This sonata is in four movements;
the second an expressive larghetto which Florian Birsak
plays in an improvisatory manner.
He uses a fortepiano, both in this sonata and in the basso continuo
of the trio sonatas. It is an interesting aspect of these performances.
Considering the rather early date of composition one may wonder
whether this is a plausible choice. It is interesting to note
that Platti, before he went to Germany, played a Cristofori
fortepiano in Siena. It is suggested he could have taken such
an instrument with him when he went north. That is certainly
possible, but remains a matter of speculation. Whether Prince
Rudolf Franz Erwein also possessed such a keyboard is impossible
to prove. Even so, it is an interesting experience, and I found
its use in the basso continuo more satisfying than on other
occasions. Birsak plays a copy of a Cristofori of 1726. Platti's
keyboard sonatas have been recorded complete on the harpsichord,
and I found it very interesting to hear one of these on the
Florian Birsak's playing is outstanding, and so are the performances
of Rüdiger Lotter and Sebastian Hess. They fully explore
the qualities of Platti's music, and both the virtuosic and
the more expressive aspects of these pieces are convincingly
conveyed. The tempi are well-chosen: the fast movements come
off really fast, and in the slow movements they take their time
in order to expose the expression. The ensemble is immaculate
and results in an eloquent dialogue between the three instruments.
Johan van Veen