A weekly ‘concert’ taken from the finest recordings in the extensive Academy of Ancient Music catalogue: join us each Sunday at 3pm on Spotify as we unveil a new playlist of music, personally chosen by AAM players, directors, soloists and guests.
Violinist and leader of the Academy of Ancient Music, Bojan Čičić joined us on 2 August 2020 to share his favourite recordings on our #SpotifySundays playlist. Taking time away from a busy week of recording, Bojan’s insightful choices throw into focus AAM’s releases on AAM Records, covering highly colourful works by Castello, the development of the symphonic form in the late baroque and early classical eras, and ending with a landmark recording of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto with Antony Pay and Christopher Hogwood.
Croatian-born violinist Bojan Čičić specialises in repertoire ranging from the late 16th century to the Romantic violin concertos of Mendelssohn and Beethoven. He is the leader of the Academy of Ancient Music and the ensemble Florilegium and appears regularly as soloist in concerts all over the world (with a recent recording of J.S. Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins with Rachel Podger named the best available recording of the work by BBC Music Magazine).
Bojan formed his own group, the Illyria Consort, to explore rare repertoire of the 17th and 18th centuries. They have performed at the Utrecht Early Music Festival, the Korkyra Baroque Festival, Festival Laus Polyphoniae, and at the Festival de Sablé. Their debut recording of Giovanni Stefano Carbonelli’s Sonate da camera Nos. 1-6 achieved great critical acclaim and was chosen as one of Presto Classical’s “Presto Recordings of the Year” for 2017. The Illyria Consort’s second disc, a world première recording of Giovanni Giornovich’s London Violin Concertos, was released in March 2019, followed by the second volume of Carbonelli’s Sonate da camera Nos. 7-12.
In 2016 Bojan was appointed Professor of Baroque Violin at the Royal College of Music, and is passionate about training the next generation of instrumentalists in historically-informed playing styles. He lives in Oxfordshire with his wife and two children.
‘I’m especially excited that AAM’s newest recording project focuses on Book 2 of these fascinating, imaginative and daring sonatas by Dario Castello. Back in 2019, I made a film with (former AAM Hogwood Fellow) Sandy Burnett and AAM lutenist William Carter, talking through my collection of baroque bow and the music for which they were suited, with Castello featuring in the course of proceedings. You can check out the full film here.‘
‘The Birth of the Symphony album (from which these selections from Handel’s Saul and the following works from Richter and Stamitz are taken) was the first recording I did with AAM, and captures brilliantly the excitement of performing under Richard Egarr’s direction, with his scholarly research into the early days of this musical form. A central focus of this album was shining a spotlight on lesser-known but intriguing symphonies that illustrated symphonic development from its earliest stages.’
(AAM note) This Sinfonia is a four-movement work that has echoes of the French orchestral suite, the baroque concerto, and also the 17th-century Italian sonata da chiesa. The initial Allegro has the ear-catching function expected of sinfonias; it is dominated by the snappy opening phrase, which is repeatedly played by the orchestra between various short sections for smaller forces.
The succeeding Larghetto combines gently descending melodic phrases with a steadily moving bass line. Handel then surprises us with the third movement, which is effectively a miniature concerto for oboe and orchestra. In Handel’s autograph of the Sinfonia, the oboe is given long, sinuous lines of semiquaver figuration over the busy string writing. Other versions exist of this movement where the solo part is given to the keyboard. The Sinfonia ends with a graceful minuet headed Andante larghetto; here the orchestral forces are condensed into a three-part texture that could be from a chamber sonata.
(AAM note) By the mid-1700s, a number of highly skilled and well-staffed court orchestras in central Europe were pioneering developments in symphonic form, principally among them the orchestra of the Mannheim court, considered by many to be among the best on the continent.
Franz Xaver Richter joined the Mannheim court in 1749, but he was already writing symphonies in earlier stages of his career. Richter’s Grande Symphony No.7 in C major was published in 1744 and has, like the symphonic style popularised by the Mannheim orchestra, an irrepressible rhythmic drive, propelled by the constant semiquavers in the first movement and the short, clearly punctuated phrases in the finale.
Yet Richter’s symphonic style consists of more than superficial sonic effects. In the slow movement, he shows his willingness to use the minor key, something rare among the Mannheim composers. In all three movements there are touches of contrapuntal writing, as in the cheeky rising upward lines for violin that are introduced towards the end of the first movement. And also in the first movement he amazes the listener with his seemingly unending succession of contrasting themes, often spiced by unexpected harmonic twists.
(AAM note) A taste of the powers of the Mannheim orchestra can be sampled in the Sinfonia a 4 in D major by Johann Wenzel Anton Stamitz (1717–57). Stamitz joined the Mannheim court in about 1741, and in 1750 (the approximate date of this Sinfonia) he gained the post of Director of Instrumental Music there. A relatively early work, the Sinfonia is in three movements for strings only, although some performances may have added woodwind and even brass and timpani.
The Sinfonia shows the brilliance and vigour associated with the Mannheim school, notably in the first movement with its rising violin scales over a harmonically static bass, and the drumming effect of repeated notes. A more mellifluous tone is heard in the slow movement, where gentle Scotch Snap figures adorn the violin melodies. Stamitz’s style is constantly demonstrative and lively, always with the aim of arousing the attention of the audience. At the same time, both Stamitz and Richter used early versions of the sonata principle to give tonal coherence to their orchestral writing.
Mozart, Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K.622: I. Allegro, II. Adagio, III. Rondo (Allegro)
Antony Pay, Christopher Hogwood
‘This recording of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto from 1985 with Antony Pay is an important addition to the playlist, for a very personal reason. The first time I ever heard AAM live was in the Musikverein in Vienna, performing this very work with Antony Pay. I took a morning train from Zagreb, where I lived at the time, and got to Vienna in the afternoon. I met with (AAM ‘cellist) Joseph Crouch, who got me a ticket and whom I knew well from Aesteas Musica baroque masterclass in Croatia, run by Catherine Mackintosh. I was still quite new to the period performance, but I remember well this particular performance of this concerto.’
‘This particular single by Pink Floyd – while well over 20 minutes long – is extraordinary and one I can’t stop listening to at the moment! Highly recommended…’