Friday, January 30, 2015

Alessandro Scarlatti: Two Concerti Grossi

Two more gems from the reclaimed record pile, ones which I had originally obtained in 1980 from my early record-collecting mentor Bill Brooks. Together they represent the only two recordings made before the advent of LP of examples from the set of six "concerti grossi" by Alessandro Scarlatti (which he himself had called "sonate a quattro") published in London in 1740 by Benjamin Cooke, fifteen years after the composer's death. The recordings also share the common denominator of having been recorded during the Second World War in countries which were the primary European Axis Powers during that conflict (Germany and Italy), but they represent greatly differing approaches to performing this music. Not surprisingly, the German approach is more scholarly and sedate, played by solo strings with a mostly inaudible harpsichord supporting them; the Italians (performing in Naples, where Scarlatti actually worked) are more enthusiastic, sometimes to the point of suspect intonation by the strings of the small chamber orchestra used, with an all-too-audible piano being used for the continuo. Both records are most enjoyable, nevertheless:

Alessandro Scarlatti: Concerto Grosso No. 1 in F minor
Wiesbaden Collegium Musicum directed by Edmund Weyns
Recorded August 29, 1941
Capitol-Telefunken 89-80059, one 78-rpm record
Link (FLAC file, 24.43 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 13.86 MB)

Alessandro Scarlatti: Concerto Grosso No. 3 in F major
Naples Conservatory Chamber Orchestra directed by Adriano Lualdi
Recorded late in 1942 or early in 1943
La Voce del Padrone DB 05352, one 78-rpm record
Link (FLAC file, 24.50 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 14.43 MB)


  1. Thank you very much for these! I'm very interested in Weyns' recordings, but I must admit I liked the Italians very much! I have another recording by Lualdi - when I get my act together, I must transfer it. Very best wishes, Nick

    1. Hi Nick, glad you liked them! Can you tell me anything about Herr Weyns? A Google search came up completely empty other than references to the various Wiesbaden Coll. Mus. recordings. I'm guessing he was one of the players - for why would it be necessary to "conduct" five or six people in music like this? Lualdi seems to be a much better-known quantity, particularly with respect to his politics, which were greatly supportive of Fascism and Mussolini!

  2. Hi Bryan, Apologies, I missed your response as I've been >ahem< tidying 'the Cave'! I'm afraid I know next-to-nothing about Weyns, except that, yes, he led the Wiesbaden Collegium Musicum from the violin. he appears to have come from a musical family in Darmstadt, though it seems to be a Dutch name originally... I wish I knew more, and that I'd get my finger out and transfer my Weyns disc. There is a lot still to learn about these early baroque performers... which is why your post is so valuable, as is all your work! Thanks again, Nick

    1. Thank you, Nick, that's more than I knew about him!