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Lars Ulrik Mortensen, Concerto Copenhagen – Per la notte di Natale – Italian Christmas Concertos (2020) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz]

Lars Ulrik Mortensen, Concerto Copenhagen – Per la notte di Natale – Italian Christmas Concertos (2020)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 48:07 minutes | 924 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Digital Booklet, Front Cover | © Naxos

Five works make up this programme of Italian Baroque Christmas concertos from Concerto Copenhagen and Lars Ulrik Mortensen, and on paper it’s a temptingly multi-coloured bunch: opening with Corelli’s famous Op. 6 No. 8 masterpiece of 1690, concluding with Pietro Locatelli’s dramatic minor-keyed and undoubtedly Corelli-influenced Op. 1 No. 8, and in between a clutch of works whose composers equally owed stylistic debts to Corelli in varying degrees: Giuseppe Torelli, with his 1708 Concerto grosso in G minor; Torelli’s pupil Francesco Manfredini, with his 1718 Concerto grosso in C major; plus Vivaldi’s Concerto in E major RV 270, with its unusual directions that strings be played with mutes, and that there be no harpsichord continuo, perhaps to conjure up a peaceful stable scene.

Move from paper to practice, though, and the impression of variety has been slightly tempered by a stylistic aesthetic which goes largely for uniform smooth. The Corelli provides an immediate case in point. Firstly, the strings so legato of attack that in the second movement Allegro there’s almost a sliding feel to the intertwining violins’ stepwise writing (perhaps a reason why the movement’s many hairpin swells also sound slightly uncomfortably slidey). Then there’s the choice of keyboard continuo, because mostly this is organ, with the harpsichord reserved purely for where a little more zip and sparkle is called for, such as the third movement’s central Allegro. Still, that third movement is actually most striking for the slowness of its outer Adagios, heightened further by the odd rubato; and while this gives us lots of time to admire some beautiful violin embellishments, to this critic’s ears it also puts things slightly out of balance with the surrounding movements.

When this is all sounding rather negative, it’s worth adding that there’s also plenty to admire, and top of the list of positives is the violin technique on show throughout – notable for being as suavely elegant and smooth over the programme’s many quicksilver-speed virtuosities, as in the more luxurious-tempo’d moments. There’s also some supreme blending going on – showcased perfectly by the Torelli’s first movement Vivace. Plus, this smooth style comes into its own for the already-tranquil Vivaldi, yielding solo violin passages of especial gossamer-weighted filigree charm.

Essentially, if you like your Baroque concertos to come with multi-coloured zest and edge then this one won’t be for you. However if you prefer something a little smoother, then this could be right up your street. – Charlotte Gardner


1. Concerto Copenhagen – I. Vivace – Grave
2. Concerto Copenhagen – II. Allegro
3. Concerto Copenhagen – III. Adagio – Allegro – Adagio
4. Concerto Copenhagen – IV. Vivace
5. Concerto Copenhagen – Va. Allegro
6. Concerto Copenhagen – Vb. Pastorale. Largo
7. Concerto Copenhagen – I. Grave – Vivace
8. Concerto Copenhagen – II. Largo
9. Concerto Copenhagen – III. Vivace
10. Concerto Copenhagen – I. Allegro
11. Concerto Copenhagen – II. Adagio
12. Concerto Copenhagen – III. Allegro
13. Concerto Copenhagen – I. Largo
14. Concerto Copenhagen – II. Largo
15. Concerto Copenhagen – III. Allegro
16. Concerto Copenhagen – I. Largo – Grave
17. Concerto Copenhagen – II. Vivace – Adagio
18. Concerto Copenhagen – III. Grave – Adagio
19. Concerto Copenhagen – IV. Largo andante
20. Concerto Copenhagen – V. Andante – Adagio
21. Concerto Copenhagen – VI. Pastorale ad libitum


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