Sinfonietta in C, Johann Christian Bach

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Sinfonietta in C, Johann Christian Bach
Year of Composition:    
Harry Fackelman
Rondo grazioso


Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY)
Tuesday, April 8, 1997
Quartet plays Slee with practiced ease
Herman Trotter

The Amherst Saxophone Quartet opened Monday's concert with the delightfully breezy Overture to the Concerto in F by Vivaldi, with its fine, high-flying soprano lines.
They then proceeded to pack a lot of interesting and varied music into the less than two hours which separated that from the racing and chattery fourth movement Allegro of J. S. Bach's statuesque and nobly sculptured Toccata in D minor, originally for harpsichord, whIch concluded the program.
There were the luxuriant surface sonorities of Handel in his Concerto Grosso in E minor, Op. 6 No.3, whose lovely, reposeful opening Larghetto was just the first offering of many distinctively Handelian thematic profiles throughout the work.

These musicians play extraordinarily well together. Therefore I have to conclude that the ungracious upper register sounds in the central Allegro movement were more the result of the arrangement's tonal impingements than any lapse by the players.

The Handel Concerto Grosso also featured a Polonaise movement unusual for the baroque era, whose wide ranging melodic contours led to an attractive variety of ensemble textures.

In Johann Christian Bach's Sinfonietta in C there was evidence of a shift away from papa J. S. Bach's baroque mastery and toward a less contrapuntal style. It rather brisk tempos and a fascinating pulsing baritone support line contributed to its very jaunty, snappy, engaging effect, but did not prevent the piece from having much of the softness of Handel.

As a personal opinion, I enjoyed the seldom heard Sinfonia in G by Giovanni Battista Sammartini as much as anything on the program.

It was full of bracing energy, descending running lines, delicious and pulse-quickening modulations, teasing pauses in mid-flight and themes with widely flung intervals. And above all, it just seemed like it would be an awful lot of fun to play.

Karl Stamitz's Wind Quartet in E-Flat was another charmer, with themes passed around canonically, a poignant central Andante movement and a chuffing Allegro with engaging turns of melodic line to conclude.

Concerto in F, Op. 3, n. 7, Antonio Vivaldi
Toccata in d minor, Johann Sebastian Bach
Concerto Grosso in e minor, Op. 6 #3, George Fredrick Handel
Sinfonietta in C, Johann Christian Bach
Sinfonia in G Major, Giovanni Battista Sammartini
Wind Quartet in Eb Major, Op. 8 #2, Karl Stamitz
Quartet plays Slee with practiced ease