Various Artists: Concerti Galanti
Artist: Various Artists
Title: Concerti Galanti
Label: Brilliant Classics
Product Type: COMPACT DISCS
One of Brilliant Classics's best-selling boxes has been a 25-album compilation of rarely heard piano concertos from the Romantic era in much-prized recordings from the 60s and 70s. Here is an imaginatively designed prequel: concertos written at a time of rapid evolution in the technology of keyboard instruments, by Italian, German and Czech composers who were responding to a rapidly increasing demand for soloistic repertoire which would show the harpsichord or fortepiano to best advantage as capable of both poetic reflection and virtuoso showmanship. Often these composers are better known for their vocal music, such as Jommelli and Pergolesi, or their works for strings and winds such as Stamitz and Koželuch: this release expands our understanding of their talent in a genre defined and immortalized by Mozart and Beethoven. 'Being galant, in general', wrote Voltaire, 'means seeking to please'. All the composers gathered here sought to fulfill Voltaire's dictum in their own ways. The concertos abound in grand opening tuttis which draw back the curtain for the solo instrument to sing as if on the operatic stage - an important origin for the 'galant' style as these composers understood it - and to engage the ensemble in lively and brilliant discourse. Second movements are often gentle Romances, never less than charming and, in the case of Clementi and Stamitz, for example, more profound than that. The finales are cast as Rondos, finishing off with a flourish and handfuls of brilliant figuration for the hard-working soloist.