“Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” Oscar Wilde’s mischievously challenging line appears across the opening frame of a film about Concerto Italiano’s recording of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos.
The film came unexpectedly into my hands. I hadn’t listened to the Brandenburgs in a while, and felt a need for their exuberating uplift. So I got the CDs from my public library, not knowing these performers but taking a chance on them.
I was wowed by the crisp liveliness of their performance. And delighted to discover that, along with the CDs of the six Brandenburgs, came a 2005 DVD about Concerto Italiano’s recording process, featuring interviews with their director, Rinaldo Alessandrini.
Alessandrini thoroughly enchanted me. Sporting the scruffy look, he spoke brilliantly, with a thoughtful twinkling joy, about baroque music.
The speed and invention of Italian baroque music—as with Bach’s Brandenburgs, which were inspired by the Italian baroque—force us to maintain a lightness in performing. It requires us only to bring out its elegance, its beauty, to make it speak very calmly. For the audience, it becomes a calm, cordial communication.
Baroque music as conversation: Alessandrini kept returning to this metaphor. [Read more...]