This disc's success, though, is really due to the performances...
Charlotte Gardner 2009-01-27
It's an interesting question; have the composers who have faded into obscurity done so because they weren’t especially good, or because history has dealt them an unfair hand? The Oxford Dictionary of Music devotes a measly twenty-five words to Giovanni Benedetto Platti, and doesn't list any of his works. Indeed, only the oboe and cello concertos on this recording are his unique compositions, the two concerti grossi being arrangements of violin sonatas by Archangelo Corelli. Consequently, I wasn't expecting to be blown away by compositional genius on this disc, so to be enjoying it as much as I am is something of an unanticipated pleasure.
Platti was an Italian oboist who, in 1722, travelled to Germany to join the court of the Prince-Bishop of Würzburg . Despite being engaged as a performer – he undoubtedly wrote the oboe concerto with himself in mind - he was able to flex his compositional muscles thanks to commissions from the Prince-Bishop's brother, who was a keen cellist. The Corelli arrangements must have been quite a hit with this brother, thanks to their rich textures and variety of timbres. As for the cello and oboe concertos, whilst they're not going to catapult Platti's reputation into that of a rediscovered master, they do hint that he was more than just a decent arranger; both abound in musical variety and emotive writing, with some exciting virtuoso passages. Even the cello concerto makes the soloist work hard, indicating that Platti wasn't so in awe of his patron that he couldn't hand him a challenge.
This disc's success, though, is really due to the performances from the Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin and their violinist director, Georg Kallweit. They play with a light, crisp attack, with just the right amount of edge, and the overall sound fizzes with stylish exuberance. Sebastian Hess on cello and Xenia Löffler on oboe bring their respective concerti to life, dealing effortlessly with the virtuoso passages and bringing out every nuance of feeling in the slower, more introspective movements. Platti may not have completely lit my fire, but this performance has.