Gypsy Baroque

Il suonar parlante orchestra, Vittorio Ghielmi
58:58
Alpha Classics Alpha 392

Behind the almost film poster of a booklet cover with galloping horse feet across the dusty plains, we encounter an assortment of works, some extracted from their familiar Baroque settings, and re-cast in an arranged gypsy mode, some pieces as arrangements of more traditional themes. It is rather like taking a whistle-stop tour through Transylvania and beyond whilst looking through a shifting musical kaleidoscope at this earthy, spirited, often rustic, stomping music. There are moments of captivating beauty too; the two guest musicians provide extra colour Dorothee Oberlinger’s sopranino recorder in one piece, and Shalev Ad El in the F. Benda work dazzle with their dextrous ease. The great gusto  and joie de vivre  of many of the other works shine through with the various soloists and a leader on great form. We pass through the foothills, the taverns, and country dances with the odd traditional song along the way. The front cover might have led to Telemann’s “Les courreurs” (TWV55:Es1 or TWV55:B5) or even “Les Scaramouches” (third movement of “La Changeante” TWV55:g2). The second Telemann extraction and arrangement, Track 7 on this CD, has gone for a bagpipe effect on the gamba, when the French clearly implies “Vielle” i.e. “hurdy-gurdy” or Lyra mendicorm, which in the original suite is couched between Menuets I/II and a Sicilienne avec Cadenze, and has real rustic impact! Here the drone dominates, and the snappier rustic tempo wanes. This recording offers more of the trend towards “Gypsyfication”, taking us from the polite salons of formal Baroque concerts into the middle and Eastern European fields, crossing almost into Istambul. Some of the violin playing reminded me of the great Stéphane Grappelli with lashings of improvisatory zeal. I wasn’t entirely won over by the Vivaldi, a tad more with the Mozart; the Benda was superb! Not to everyone’s taste, but a colourful tour nonetheless.

David Bellinger