Paradise: Instrumental Sonatas of Antonio Bertali

Floral design

Acronym (Edwin Huizinga & Beth Wenstrom violin, Adriane Post and Karina Schmitz violin/viola, Kyle Miller viola, Paul Dwyer violoncello, Loren Ludwig viola da gamba, Kivie Cahn-Lipman viola da gamba, violoncello & lirone, Doug Balliett violone, Simon Martyn-Ellis theorbo and Elliot Figg harpsichord/organ)
Olde Focus Recordings FCR901

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]nyone who knows me or is regular reader of these pages will be well acquainted with my partiality for music from 17th-century Vienna, so it will come as no surprise that I love this recording. In fact, I had no idea the CD existed, but I had spent many evenings a few months ago watching Acronym’s live performances on youtube. They tackle everything from sonatas for two soloists (either two violins or violin and gamba) to the three works in eight parts. The latter include what is effectively a prototype concerto grosso (and look out for the harmonies when the tutti group join in), a sonatas for two choirs with solo violin and gamba and two ‘filler’ parts (no disrespect to the performers!), and a proper eight-voiced sonata, which is recorded here for the first time. Precise playing and clever positioning of the two treble groups on either side of the bass instruments ensures that all of the lines are clearly audible and the sophistication of Bertali’s fine part-writing comes through, without that ever distracting from the sense of overall shape, of which he was a master. As well as the links below, the album is downloadable (along with a PDF of the booklet note, which details the performers and all the musical sources used) from the recording company’s website; their about page makes for very interesting reading, and musicians with a plan might consider getting involved with them. I’m glad Acronym did and I wholeheartedly recommend this CD to everyone!

Brian Clark