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Sonates pour Violon et Basse Continue by Westhoff

Westhoff I had always hoped Reinhard Goebel would have produced a CD of Westhoff violin sonatas. His colleauge Manfredo Kraemer did some years later release a single sonata (for solo violin) on a poorly recorded CD with Capriccio Stravagante. Another MAK colleague, the talented David Plantier, has now released some Westhoff on the ZigZag Territories label with Les plaisirs du Parnasse. This is my first chance at hearing Mr. Plantier as a soloist; his dynamic range and tonal sound is really quite nice. Think one part Goebel, one part Onofri, one part Kraemer, perhaps... of course, that's an unfair comparison. He's his own player, but rarely do we find a player with such a penetrating tone, playfulness, and directed intensity. Westhoff published these works, evidently, in 1694, quite remarkable for their quality and complexity. Both with the technique and the harmonic language, Westhoff was a modernist. The recording here is live-sounding, well done, great depth captured between an up-front violin, and deep, plucked bass from among the continuo group. The six works included in the collection are played out of order and vary somewhat in quality. The opening #4 is rich and virtuosic. #3 is nervous, changing speeds and moods on a dime. Carry a pocket full of change. What we're left with is a multitude of sound worlds, presented lovingly one after another. Westhoff seemingly likes strong themes, and milks them, but where others might go and follow the full depths of one's first theme, Westhoff changes course and presents a new idea. Perhaps these are the traits of the world's finest composers, but it makes Westoff easy listening. The intense sonata #2 is full of multiple-stopping, Plantier is quite able to shift between the break-neck speeds chosen for the Allegros, and the more contemplative (if not private) slower movements. Let's be honest, these sonatas contain lots of opportunities for speed and double stopping. They can't be easy to play. Both Plantier and his colleagues on basso continuo own these works. This recording is rich with invention. Rich with tonal color, rich with virtuosic challenges met, and rich with passion. It's the type of CD you don't listen to from start to finish. Mix a sonata or two with other Westhoff contemporaries. Like fine chocolates, you may feel too guilty eating them at once. Very highly recommended. Read what Johan van Veen said about this release.

Walther - Hortulus Chelicus

Veracini Sonatas