Bach ‘N Roll!

Rinaldo Alessandrini, harpsichordist and conductor of Concerto Italiano, has recorded enough albums to fill the seven seas. And each one sounds as if he spent a lifetime perfecting every detail.

Although competition for this distinction is stiff, I think he must be considered one of the greatest interpreters of Vivaldi. His reconstruction of a Vivaldian Vespers for the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary remains the gem of my modest (but always growing) collection.

In this marvelous documentary, Alessandrini speaks of Vivaldi’s influence on J. S. Bach, and how it informs his own take on Bach’s exquisite Brandenburg Concertos:

As with all of his labors of love, Alessandrini delivers these canonical masterworks with supremely supple variations. The quick and slow, loud and soft, joyful and somber, gentle and raucous, are each given their due.

As with other conductors to whom I am drawn, there are moments here that will certainly shock the ear of those used to a less ecstatic approach. Certain elements still give me pause, trained as mind is by repeated and rapt attention to the tones and cadences of a more standard (in the best sense of the word) rendition.

In the video, Alessandrini explains why his version of the first concerto begins in deliberate “confusion,” mirroring the conditions of a hunting expedition at the height of its boisterous activity.

The more I listen, the more I am convinced that even the challenges presented by Alessandrini’s approach aid in his overall aim, which is to permit the innumerable facets of sparkling beauty packed into Bach’s compositions to shine forth with maximal splendor.

But don’t take my word for it, hear for yourself!

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