Venetian Christmas Good for All Seasons

Don’t let the title mislead you. Yes, “Venetian Christmas” is a compilation of music that was played during the Christmas season in Venice during the 1750’s. But there’s nothing that would make it sound “seasonal” to modern ears.

Many of the selections feature the psaltery, an ancestor of the hammered dulcimer. The soft, warm tones of the struck psaltery strings give the music a different cast then that of a harpsichord’s harsher plucked-strong sound.

Works by Venetian composer Antonio Vivaldi make up much of the program (as they probably did in Venetian concerts of the day). Also included is a concerto grosso by Torelli and a sonata for psaltery by Fulgenzio Perotti, a composer and psaltery teacher.

This is a beautifully recorded SACD that takes full advantage of the technology. The psaltery is a soft-spoken instrument, and Komalé Akakpo’s expressive playing makes it sound luminous. Soprano Ruby Hughes sings Hasse’s Alma Redemptoris Mater and Vivaldi’s Salve Regina with warmth and sensitivity.

And the SACD preserves the fine details of violinist Ewa Golínska delicate phrasing and gives the ensemble sound of the Arte dei Suonatori real depth. I didn’t receive this recording for review until well after Christmas. But no matter. It was a pleasure to listen to then, and I anticipate it will continue to be in late summer. This is one seasonal disc that is anything but.

Venetian Christmas
Antonio Vivaldi, Johann Adolph Hasse, Fulgenzio Perotti, Giuseppe Torelli
Ewa Golínska, violin; Komalé Akakpo, psaltery; Ruby Hughes, soprano; Arte dei Suonatori; Martin Gester,conductor
BIS 2089 SACD

More Recent Posts

  • Harry Partch Sonata Dementia – More, Please

    Tags: , , , ,

    I’ve always loved the music of Harry Partch. These new recordings by Bridge Records do a tremendous service to the world of music. Hearing the Partch ensemble perform with copies of Partch’s original hand-made instruments. That’s important because it means these instruments can really be played, not handled like irreplaceable museum pieces. And the Partch […]

  • Eli Cook at Offbeat Roadhouse, Aug 30

    Tags: , , , ,

    Blues man Eli Cook will pull into Offbeat Roadhouse on Friday night, August 30, from 8-9 for an acoustic concert which will also be broadcast on WTJU. Sure you could listen on the radio (91.1 FM) or on-line, and even video stream it, but concerts always sound better with you as part of the studio audience. Offbeat Roadhouse takes place each Friday […]

  • Atlantic Weekly closes out its Charlottesville City Market season, Aug 24

    Tags: , , ,

    Coming up this Saturday morning, August 24, from 8 til noon, Atlantic Weekly returns to close out its season at Charlottesville City Market.  Besides the usual great music and conversation with some of the local vendors,  there will be live music from The Weedeaters! While you can of course just listen on WTJU as usual, come on out and […]

  • Carl Czerny Piano Trios Brilliantly Entertaining

    Tags: , , , , , , ,

    Five piano trio receive their world recording premiers with this release. In a sense, it’s not that big a deal. Carl Czerny wrote over 1,000 works, over 800 of them published. There are still many, many Czerny works awaiting their first recording. The trios presented here are certainly worthy of attention. The 1830 Deux Trios […]

  • New Jazz Adds – 8/20/2019

    New Jazz Adds – 8/20/2019 Erik Applegate & Time Child – Woodstock! (Artist Alliance): “On their new album WOODSTOCK!, bassist/composer Erik Applegate and TimeChild celebrate the music and spirit of the watershed festival which sees its 50th Anniversary this year. A mix of original songs and reinterpretations of pieces performed that seminal weekend, the band […]

  • New Blues News – 8/20/2019

    New Blues News – 8/20/2019 Arthur Adams – Here to make you Feel Good (Cleopatra Blues): This appears to be Arthur Adams ninth release. He has a smooth approach which would best qualify as blue soul. He has a mellow voice and creates a pleasant sound throughout. He wrote or co-wrote each song. Backing musicians […]