"Fanfare", January/February 2009: Platti ANTOLOGIA
If the name Giovanni Benedetto Platti does not register in your internal memory bank, do not be alarmed. Platti (1697?-1763) is one of music's better-kept secrets. He is listed in all of my favorite (and yellowing) print sources, but only in the sketchiest way. He was born in Padua, near Venice, where he studied, possibly with Vivaldi, and later attracted the attention of the Prince Bishop of Bamberg and Wurzburg, who brought him to his court in 1722. There he acted as oboist, violinist, and "tenorist," as well as court composer and tutor. He wrote a substantial amount of vocal music, nearly all of which is lost (much of it during World War II), and about 120 instrumental pieces, notably keyboard sonatas and concertos for various instruments. He married a court singer, who bore him 10 children, and remained in Wiirzburg until his death, despite the hard times that eventually decimated its musical establishment. His music was not widely disseminated during his lifetime and mostly forgotten after his death.
Judging from the contents of the present release, Platti is well worth getting to know. An oddity of his legacy is that only one concerto has survived for each of his two principal instruments, the violin and the oboe, both of which are included in this program. The Oboe Concerto has been recorded, rarely, in the past, but the Violin Concerto is identified as a world premiere recording-as is the Harpsichord Concerto. Platti learned the fortepiano in Italy and is probably best remembered for his keyboard music, especially his sonatas. The cello, his patron's instrument and featured in much of Platti's output, is represented by the Concerto and the Trio Sonata, in which the cello has a prominent role. An example of Platti's vocal music, a succinct setting of the Stabat mater, for bass soloist and orchestra completes the program. Platti's music bridged the divide between the Baroque and the galant, and, in fact, he was credited by some scholars with inventing the sonata form. That hypothesis has been rejected by later scholarship, but the fact that it was even entertained would, it seems to me, make him a figure of some historical import.
Pratum Integrum Orchestra, a Russian conductorless period-instruments ensemble that is just now making its presence known here, makes a strong case for Platti with stylish and vivacious performances. For the record, the concerto soloists, all splendid, are Alfredo Bernardini, oboe; Olga Martynova, harpsichord; Sergei Filchenko, violin (and concertmaster); and Pavel Serbin, cello (also artistic director). The bass soloist, Dmitry Stepanovich, is capable, but not particularly memorable in the Stabat mater. You'll learn more about Giovanni Benedetto Platti from Frohmut Dangel-Hofmann's liner note than you will from five books and Wikipedia combined. Recorded in sumptuous surround sound, this excellent disc is enjoyable, illuminating, and perhaps important.
"Fono Forum", July 2007: Charmant -
Giovanni Benedetto Platti (um 1697-1763) wirkte über vierzig Jahre lang am Hof der Würzburger Fürstbischöfe; zugleich lieferte er Rudolf Franz von Schönborn, einem Verwandten der Fürstbischöfe, dessen Musikbibliothek heute zu den wichtigsten in Süddeutschland zählt, zahlreiche Kompositionen. Deren breites stilistisches Spektrum reicht vom spätbarocken Cello- bis zum vorklassischen Cembalokonzert und wird nun vom russischen Barockorchester Pratum Integrum mit viel Temperament, Spielwitz lind Charme vorgetragen. Im Vergleich zu früheren Aufnahmen haI sich die Klangkultur des Ensembles weiter verbessert, wohl auch unter dem Einfluss von Alfrcdo Bernardini, der im Oboenkonzert als souveräner Solist glänzt.
Audiophile Audition Review: GIOVANNI BENEDETTO PLATTI: Antologia -
Platti's music seems to have been influenced by the likes of Corelli and Tartini, both of them violin virtuosos.
I must confess I never heard even in passing of this obviously now forgotten composer. Giovanni Benedetto Platti (ca. 1697-1763) was born in Venice (or Parma?) but in 1722 we find him in the city of Würzburg in the Franconia region of Bavaria, Germany. Having been hired as an expert oboist by the local Prince-archbishop Johann Philipp Franz von Schönborn he stayed put there for the rest of his life. His composition’s manuscripts are preserved in the Wiesentheid (Bavaria) collection and other libraries in Berlin, Dresden and Munich. The Pratum Integrum Orchestra was founded in Moscow, Russia in 2003; they perform on original and/or replicas of period instruments. This recording was made on June of 2006 in the studios of the Russian Television and Broadcasting Company in Moscow.
On listening for the first time to Platti’s chamber music I find it very attractive and insightful, full of warm melodies especially in the middle movements of his concertos, and ranging widely in their spirit/attitude and moods. These concertos are structurally well balanced and always observing Baroque’s very well known three parts format that Vivaldi and Hasse amongst many others practiced. In general Platti’s format is Allegro – Andante/Adagio/Largo/Lento – Allegretto, which later would wrongly be known as the Viotti-Mozart model.
Platti’s music seems to have been influenced by the likes of Corelli and Tartini, both of them violin virtuosos, and Platti was a violinist beside being and oboist. This felicitous influence can be readily heard through his concerto for violin and orchestra (Tracks 8-10) and specifically T-9, and Adagio. Just as well we cannot escape noticing how close his trio sonata for violin, violoncello and basso continuo is to Haydn’s music without making a literal copy of it. The musical structure of this sonata is close to Haydn’s (see Tracks 14-17) especially in T-15, an Allegro.
Finally, in Tracks 4-6 we can hear Mozart before he (Mozart) actually composed anything as far as we know. It is obvious that Platti’s music had progressed through many transformations to enter into the Classic realm around 1750-60. This concerto for harpsichord and orchestra is absolutely sublime in its almost primitive rhythms with unadorned harmonies and the natural beauty of its melodies. They are all noted for their dynamic vitality especially in the Siciliano of T-5. Platti’s harpsichord concerto predates Mozart by a good many years and what a revelation it is! My only caveat is that the harpsichord sounds more like an spinet than a harpsichord with its very light tone, but that is the performer’s choice. Indeed, I would have like it better with the sound of a heavier instrument.
This five-channel SACD sound is very good indeed; the sound is in the front speakers without any intrusive or extreme instrument imaging. All I can say is that the sound is up front, very clear and transparent as it befits to the quality of the microphones employed in the recording, namely: Neumann km130; DPA (B&K) 4006 and 4011, and SCHOEPS mk2S and mk41. The rear speakers in this SACD recording carry a modicum of acoustics but no more. All in all a well configured acoustic space and a very pleasant disc to listen to on a rainy day…like today!
Musik an sich: QUERSCHNITT
Wenig weiß die Nachwelt über das Leben von Giovanni Benedetto Platti. Schon das Geburtsjahr ist unklar, wird teils mit 1692, teils mit 1697 angegeben. Sein Geburtsort dürfte Padua oder Venedig gewesen sein. Fest steht nur, dass Platti 1722 an den Hofe des Würzburger Fürzbischofs kam. Hier blieb er bis zu seinem Tode 1763 im Dienst der Hofkapelle. Platti erlangte als Oboenvirtuose einige Berühmtheit, war aber auch als Violinist, Cellist und Cembalist versiert. Kein Wunder also, dass sich auf dieser Antologia just ein Konzert für jedes dieser Instrumente findet. Sie stammen allesamt aus dem zweiten Viertel des 18. Jahrhunderts und markieren dabei stilistisch die Zeit des Übergangs vom Barock zur Klassik. Plattis Konzerte zeichnen sich vor allem durch eine sorgfältige Verarbeitung des thematischen Materials aus, bewegen sich aber dennoch nicht alle auf gleichem musikalischen Niveau. Von einigem Reiz sind die beiden g-moll-Konzerte. Das Oboenkonzert changiert sich zwischen Schwerblütigkeit und mediterraner Leichtigkeit, das Cellokonzert wirkt ungewohnt grüblerisch. Wesentlich konventioneller sind das Cembalo- und das Violinkonzert geraten, wobei das Cembalokonzert durch den - möglicherweise aufnahmetechnisch bedingten - unangenehm metallischen, bassarmen Klang des Instruments getrübt wird.
Interessant ist die Triosonate, die mit ihrer anspruchsvollen Chromatik wohl für einen vertrauten Kreis von Musikerkollegen und Musikkennern geschaffen worden sein dürfte.
Wie ein Fremdköper auf dem Album wirkt hingegen das gut sechsminütige Stabat mater für Bass-Stimme, zwei Violen und Basso continuo, bei dem nur die ersten zehn Strophen der Sequenz vertont wurden und das vermutlich ein Fragment geblieben ist. Zwar lässt sich das Werk mit seinem düster gefärbten Gesamtklang und seinen dissonanten Reibungen spannend an, doch ist es zu kurz, um einen wirklichen Eindruck von Plattis Vokalschaffen zu erhalten und wirkt zudem "eingequetscht" zwischen den zwei unverbindlich-heiteren Dur-Konzerten.
Das angemessen klein besetzte Orchester Pratum Integrum präsentiert diesen Querschnitt durch Plattis Werk zusammen mit den Solisten in gewohnt souveräner Manier und musziziert delikat. Aus der Kategorie des Kleinmeisters wird Platti jedoch auch dadurch nicht herausgehoben.
SA-CD.net reviews: Giovanni Benedetto Platti - Antologia -
This disc contains quite a variety!
Right from the start it is a veritable treat. The Concerto in G minor for oboe and orchestra is lively and features a brilliant performance from oboe player Alfredo Bernardini.
The Concerto in D major for harpsichord and orchestra is somewhat surprisingly a world premiere recording. The harpsichord chord progressions in the opening Andantino are gorgeous. Olga Martynova is on top form. The balance between harpsichord and orchestra is spot on in this recording.
Stabat mater opens with some lovely interplay between oboe (Alfredo Bernadini) and alto recorder (Alexander Kolomiets). The vocal (please excuse my lack of familiarity with classical music buzzwords) is handled to great effect by Dmitry Stepanovich, bass.
Sergio Filchenko plays the violin solo in the Concerto in A major for violin and orchestra. It is to my ears a little reminiscent of Vivaldi, and very much to my liking.
The Concerto in G major for violoncello and orchestra features Pavel Serbin on solo cello. The opening movement bobs along in sprightly fashion.
The disc closes with the Trio Sonata in B flat major for violin (Sergei Filchenko), violoncello (Pavel Serbin) and basso continuo (Olga Martynova). Only three instruments, but the sound fills the room wonderfully.
All in all the disc pleased me immensely - I'd never heard of the composer. I played it on two systems - quadraphonic and 5.1, and it sounds equally superb on both.