Divertimenti Viennesi

Album cover art for upc 5028421961279
Label: BRILLIANT CLASSICS
Catalog: BRI96127
Format: COMPACT DISC

Musica Elegentia Consort; Cicchitti, Matteo

All three composers gathered together on this unique compilation were active in Vienna in the last half of the 18th century, and all had mastered the craft of writing music for pleasure – as much in the playing as the listening – rather than devotion or edification. They were also expert string players – Dittersdorf and Vanhal formed the other two members of a famous ‘composers’ quartet’ that included Joseph Haydn (younger brother to Michael) and Mozart – and so wrote these divertimentos from the inside, as it were. The Divertimenti included in the album were composed in the 1760s. They are all fairly brief, multi-movement pieces, easy on the ear and of fairly simple construction, with the first violin taking the lion’s share of the melody. However, a little closer listening will reveal many small refinements in the secondary parts (viola e violone), which not only support the main part, but interact with it in lively musical conversation: an inter-instrumental dialogue which is particularly emphasized in this recording. Michael Haydn’s C major Divertimento P.110 has the most conventional, four-movement structure, whereas Vanhal’s symmetrical design encloses a lovely Adagio within a pair of minuets, a free-flowing first movement and a syncopated finale bristling with energy and high spirits. The six trios by Dittersdorf are all two-movement pieces, pairing a quick introduction with a gentler minuet. The common but unusual element to the scoring of all the music on this album is the absence of cello in the basso continuo role, which is written down the octave to be played by a violone or double bass. This often creates a gruff or humorous character – especially in Michael Haydn’s Divertimento – but Vanhal in particular requires a musician of agility to zip up and down the instrument and writes for it as a deeper cello.

Price: $14.99