Ophélie Gaillard, Pulcinella Orchestra
Sinfonias in C (Wq. 182/3, H. 659) and e (Wq. 178, H. 653), Concertos in B flat (cello, Wq. 171, H. 436) and d (harpsichord, Wq. 17, H. 420), and Piccolo cello sonata in D (Wq. 137, H. 559)
“First you must feel the emotion that you will then arouse in the listener” is printed under the composer’s name on the reverse of the packaging for this excellent CD. It quotes the composer himself, and is Ophélie Gaillard’s starting point for performing his music, which I must confess she – and her colleagues – does very, very well. She is the star turn in the B flat major concerto and a D major sonata, in which she is partnered on harpsichord by the soloist in the other concerto on the disc, Francesco Corti. He also plays fortepiano continuo in the sinfonias, and I wish he had been allowed to emerge from the texture even more than he does. Nonetheless these are possibly the best performances I have heard of both of those works.
Gaillard and co. clearly get C. P. E. Bach – the fiery lines of the last movement of the C major sinfonia are electrifying. All the more so because the recorded sound is immediate without being narrow; there is plenty of space for the sound to expand into, and when the whole ensemble plays in octaves (as they do quite often!), the effect is simply wonderful.
The cello concerto is something of a masterclass in how to play this repertoire; Gaillard is majesterial, Corti and the continuo cellist dialogue beautifully with her in extended solo passages, the upper strings provide equally sympathetic accompaniment when the composer opts for a change of texture, and the tutti passages are dramatic and neatly delivered. More, please!