Arias: Non piu di fiori
Vado Ma Dove?
Peter van Maldere
Sinfonia in D Op. 5 No. 1
Terra Nova Collective
Coline Dutilleul Mezzo-soprano
Borja Garcia Mata Basset Clarinet
Lisa Shklyaver Basset Horn
Vlad Weverbergh Basset Clarinet/Director
The Basset instruments of the late 18th century, whether called clarinets or horns, were particularly delicious in tone, giving not only extra notes to the clarinet range but a rich and mellow tone that modern generations do not quite match.
They are not easy to play but you would never know that from hearing Weverbergh and his colleagues, who sail through with all the fluency and crisp authority to be expected from ‘normal’ clarinets, with all the keys they carry now. It is so clearly a generation on from the pioneering sound of Alan Hacker in the 1970s and 80s.
The discovery in this programme is the Sinfonia by Maldere, a Brussels-based composer who died at the age of 39 in 1768. He was admired and influential in his time, though neglected now – perhaps because he doesn’t fit into the Viennese and Italian narrative of late baroque composers. I hope other ensembles explore his legacy.
It was a nice idea to show off the basset instruments’ qualities as an obbligato accompaniment in Mozart’s arias; Vado Ma Dove? a genuine self-standing concert showpiece, the other two from La Clemenza di Tito. The point is well made but sadly Coline Dutilleul’s variable intonation and tendency to hoot means that the performance is flawed. It is a shame because the Terra Nova Collective is truly excellent, showing off well unified period ensemble and reliable tuning, the attacks firm and the tempo never allowed to sag.
That said, Weverbergh is just a little too matter-of-fact with the slow movement of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto. It is marked Adagio but he takes it at a rather determined Andante, as if its magical beauty is too sentimental to be tolerated and we should experience this glorious work as if it was just another run-of-the-mill late classical concerto. The hurry also loses the lusciousness of the basset clarinet’s character – all a bit of a shame when there is so much that is very fine.