This new release by Dorian Komanoff Bandy, Baroque violin, and Paul Cienniwa, harpsichord, therefore is “authentic” in its forces (no cello); its complement of instruments (a Baroque violin circa 1750, perhaps from Innsbruck, with modern copies of Baroque bows, and a harpsichord made in 2008 by Kevin Spindler); and its period-correct pitch (Concert “A” is at 415 Hz).
The recording was made at Boston’s NPR affiliate station WGBH-FM’s studio in native 24-bit 96-kHz PCM, with microphones by Schoeps (CMC6-MK5); Sennheiser (MKH800); and Neumann (KM130). The sound is very well-judged in terms of a natural recording perspective, so that the articulation sounds of both instruments do not obscure the essential musical line. In other words, not distressingly and fatiguingly on top of you—there is some welcome breathing room, some personal space for the players and for the listener.
Both players are confidently at ease in this music. The informative and persuasive liner notes (by the violinist) go into detail on the six sonatas from 1715 (each one distinct in its own way), as well as the world-premiere recording of the Sonata in F-sharp minor, which the liner notes characterize as experimental. The F-sharp minor sonata exists only in manuscript form, and, interestingly, was signed with a pseudonym (“George Melante”), which in a way is a phonetic anagram of “Telemann.”
The liner notes also make the point that the six sonatas are more virtuosic in terms of compositional invention than in instrumental technique. That may be the case; but, these works do not lack for technical challenges.
Komanoff Bandy’s playing is free-spirited, by turns sprightly or melancholy. He produces a very attractive tone, and his execution is free of the exaggerated dynamic swoops and pitch slides that bedevil some “H.I.P.” violin performances. Cienniwa is an ideal sonata partner. His touch is firm but not overbearing, so his sound is never clangy.
I certainly hope that it is not The Kiss of Death for me to state that overall, the word that I find most apt to describe this inventive music and these committed performances is “charming.” But “intimate” is a good word too. “Congenial” is also good. I’d wager that this CD (or the hi-res downloads) would be enjoyable as the sole focus of attention, or as accompaniment to other activities, such reading, or entertaining friends.
Those in search of a fresh perspective on a well-known but actually rather neglected composer, or even those who only want a little stress-free musical vacation, should buy the CD or the download, or stream the music from Tidal. Very much recommended!