Back in 1998, Concerto Köln recorded 9 concerti by the composer Evaristo Felice dall'Abaco, whom died in 1742. As the liner notes cannot resist to point out, the composer's style varies greatly from his early works through to his later ones. The composer and the ensemble (both) treat us to some rich sonorities in those early works, CK in command of a rather lush sound for a baroque ensemble.
The first work is written as a "Concerti à quattro" in 4-movements, but some of his later works from opus 5 take on a more suite-like formality, and the samples from op. 6 offer a three-movement plan.
CK play with penache, the tempos vary, but when they push things, they go. The sound of the ensemble is good, but I feel the recording is not top-notch… there's a little too much air around the ensemble for my taste.
If I could describe this music, and its journey through time, it would start in the minor mode with a lot of seriousness. The Op. 5 no. 5 concerto is happiness personified, festive almost, with a real joie de vivre.
And the op. 6? The second allegro of the op 6 no 5 concerto is practically symphonic, with a more "traditional" concerto gross interchange, except that modernity has crept-in with the exchange of keys. By the end all the energy leaves us with a smile on our face.
The last work, op. 6 no. 11 is likewise upbeat and positive with the bright key of E major. CK take on a symphonic sound once again, but the harpsichord almost sounds out of place with the style of this piece. It's definitely a work of transition, but clearly rooted in the Baroque. It's too busy and agitated to pass for a symphonic work by Haydn.
This has been my introduction to the music of dall'Abaco. I've enjoyed the recording over the years, but I have to admit my favorite are the older, minor-moded works. And this is why CK is well=regarded… they've been unearthing rare treasures that aren't always the most popular with modern audiences. But this is one is among my favorite of their exquisite finds.