Chacun a ses petit Travers

Chacun a ses petits travers, or, Everybody has his shortcomings....

Reviews of the Stockholm Sonatas have been overwhelmingly positive. There are only two negative reviews, (and dozens of laudatory ones) but for the sake of completeness I include the negative reviews below. These rants are interesting! So I have justaposed and alternated three positive reviews with the two negative. For further insight into rants, please see the Lexicon of Musical Invective: Critical Assaults on Composers Since Beethoven's Time by Nicolas Slonimsky, for similar reviews of almost every famous piece you ever heard.


Ariosti: Stockholm Sonatas, vol 1 and 2

American Record Guide, November/December 2007 by C. Moore "Even if the playing were ordinary (and it is very far above that!) these recordings would merit praise and attention because they are a testament to the energy, perseverance, attention to detail, imagination, and solid musical sense that is required by any musician who wants to bring old music to life. Thomas Georgi′s accomplishment is a triumph. He has conquered the demands of deciphering Attlio Ariosti′s recipe for tuning and fingering the viola d′amore (composers for this instrument used their own tuning system for both the playing strings and the sympathetic strings; instruments can have up to 7 strings of both types: see Georgi′s very informative website, and he has combined music from the different sources to make thse two discs of seven pieces each. One source gives the series its name: while a young student in the 1710′s, Johan Helmich Roman (1694-1758) copied 15 Ariosti pieces during his visits to London. Roman was Swedish, and his manuscript is preserved in Stockholm. Ariosti (1666-1729) performed on the viola d′amore in his first known appearance in England in 1716. There were very few viole d′amore instruments in England in the 1720:s, so Ariosti re-configured the music to be played on the (four-stringed) violin, apparently selling a very large number of copies of this 1724 publication, dedicated to King George I.
This is very fine music, superbly played by all the musicians. Each piece is 8-12 minutes long, and most have four movements. There is a lot of variety in tempo and character, and Ariosti′s harmonic language is very rich.

Lessons et sonates pour viole dàmour (Stockholm Sonatas, vol. 1) Diapason, Jan 2007 by Roger-Claude Travers, (translated by a French colleague, whose comments are included in parentheses. I did pay her with chocolate.) ``Three virtuosos have dared to measure themselves against the complete Lessons and Solos by Ariosti. Forget about the version of Joseph Ceo (Titanic), out of print, and the one, alas! of Nane Calabrese, historic member of the Solisti Veneti (Erato 1978.) Perfect intonation, generous and eloquant way of using the bow, wandering (!) imagination, the seductive Nane priviledged timbers that were rich in unusual harmonics. ( Mr. Calabrese was a wonderful player, check out this video ) T.G.`s approach is as obscure as it is refined. The three types of violas d`amore are identified and described with great care in the notes, very complete, are scraped in the most adapted lessons with the use of Ariosti`s over-subtle fingerings and an almost systematic denial to let the strings vibrate in a rich way. Georgi chooses to show the delicate and subtle timbers with few accented chords and a moderate solicitation of the sympathetic strings. (Meaning in French also not clear.) A model of probity. But what a bore! A touch of nostalgic sensivity in the slow movements. Some distance. And a rigorously lifeless continuo.``

Heather Miller Lardin, Early Music America, Summer 2008 ...This is intimate music in which Georgi, Harris, Morton, and Yamahiro craft captivating tableaux. Georgi's playing is superb: he is flexible and articulate, and his use of expressive portamento is particularly remarkable. It's worth reading the liner notes, in which Georgi explicates his decision-making processes in edition and performing and offer useful tips for the performer studying Ariosti's sonatas. At the same time, he addresses the dilettante listener who has never heard of scordatura.

Ariosti, Oeuvres pour la viole dàmour, Le Monde de la Musique, Oct 2006 Frank Langlois This recording, the first to be devoted to Attilio Ariosti, if full of good intentions but none of them are holding their promises. (This is a weird phrase in French, too.) archlute and baroque guitar by turns, often using the latter in the gigue finales; Joelle Morton substitutes great bass viol for the viola da gamba in the final two pieces where Georgi plays a 7 (+7) 1772 instrument. First of all, the music is pathetic: even if Ariosti was, in London, a great master of the viola d`amore, the pieces presented here are oppressively poor and predictible. Without a doubt, specialists will stress the fact that each lesson obeys the Italian fast-slow fast alternation which is tempered by the presence of a few French dances. But what`s the point when the project falls short. T.G., mastermind of this project, fails even to sing (not sure what he means here--- it`s just because I`m getting chocolate for it that I am even trying to translate this pedant!) a minima, the pieces he choses to play. In the past the viola d`amore has found talented defenders who developed smooth and subdued sounds that you can regognize in the first seconds (just as weird in French). On the contrary, this cd is full of moments where we think that we are hearing a badly played violin. (this is torture, Tom, just burn the goddamn review!) Finally, the sadness of this viola d`amore is not counterbalanced by its continuo: its instrumentation is the same for the whole CD (a harpsichord, a harp, a positif, or a cello would have entertained us a little), and its boring linearity regrettable fits perfectly with the principal instrument.

From the journal Early Music: "Georgi's unravelling of its intricacies (i.e., of the scordatura notation) has enabled him to recreate something of the sound of the composer's own performances, especally in his unique use of high positions which greatly extend the instrument's range of tone-colours. This is of especial benefit in the long singing lines of the luxuriously expressive cantabile slow movements, many of them boasting a strong Handelian flavour, for which Ariosti had a particular talent. (It would be fairer to say that these have an Ariostian flavour, which Handel was happy to copy! TG) The effect is often closer to that of a viola or even a cello in its higher register than a violin, though with a greater piquancy and incisiveness which produces notably crisp articulation. This is seen to great advantage in dance movements, whether solemn sarabande, graceful and elegant minuet, or merrily rolicking giguer with strummed guitar continuo, all providing eloquent testimony to Ariosti's apparently inexhaustible flow of invention, and to the wealth of his talent, which make the programme a delight to listen to from beginning to end. Georgi's extreamely informative notes in the accompanying booklet are as excellent as his playing; the title of the disc suggests that it is the first of a series- if so, the next installment is to be most eagerly awaited. Elizabeth Roche, EM 08/07