“Giorno e Notte”, recorder concerts by Antonio Vivaldi
Conrad Steinmann, one of the most distinguished recorder players of our time, took on some of the Italian’s flute concertos — based on rather theoretical considerations. As the musician writes in the booklet, he was inspired to his idiosyncratic examination of some of Vivaldi’s flute works by a treatise by the Italian Bartololemo Bismantova (1667), in which, among other things, the recorder family is dealt with in detail, a rarity if one considers the generally fallen importance of the recorder in early Baroque. In this ‘Compendio Musicale’ we were talking not only about a ‘flauto italiano’, a three-part flute (in the traditional tuning tone g´), but also about a flute tuned on d´ . Based on the assumption that Vivaldi might have had recorders with different tunings in mind (and at his disposal), Steinmann started to record some of Vivaldi’s works on different instruments. On this CD, one can hear wonderfully how different the sound results are. The experienced flutist is supported by two violins, viola and continuo section (double bass, lute and harpsichord).
Infused with joy
If one listens to the first seconds of this recording, one could assume that a work by Mauricio Kagel has gotten lost on this CD. Steinmann and his companions take the liberty of simply improvising. Sounds and small playing figures are simply tried out. And one is hardly surprised at this strange beginning, then the wonderful sound variety of the A minor concerto (RV 108) comes to the fore. Immediately after the first bars it is clear that this recording can hardly be surpassed in transparency, joy of playing and verve. Steinmann turns every capriole of Vivaldi into a real pleasure, the idiomatic way of writing is brought to bear by playful wit and subtle phrasing. The differentiation is not only evident in small dynamic gradations, but also in microscopic agogic liberties, which have nothing to do with mannerism, but with soulful, fiery music-making. Allegri are just as successful as Largi without sentimentality, in which contrapuntal finesse is savoured in long overbindings and short dissolutions. In all this, the ‘accompaniment’ plays anything but a subordinate role. The somewhat brittle violin sounds, the extraordinarily multi-layered lute accompaniment and the in every respect perfect arrangement of the harpsichord part do not result with the concerto flute in a sum of individual parts, but in a transparent, richly formed whole.
This recording also meets the highest demands in terms of sound realization. Optimal balance between flute and ensemble, excellent balance within the ensemble and an incredible transparency of sound make this CD a true event (as well as other recordings of the Swiss label DIVOX).
Out of the grey area of prejudice
After enjoying this production, one can once again cite Stravinsky’s dictum that Vivaldi wrote one and the same concert 300 times as proof to the contrary. Because especially in the little details worked out here, there is an unusual wealth of detail.
One can only advise every reader to buy this CD. Because here you are dealing with a production of one piece. Both the fabulously transparent sound, the immense playfulness and the pure joy of making music make this ‘day and night’ overwritten recording a feast for the senses. (Tobias Pfleger in: Toccata)
Peter Bichsel on the solo CD “Echo
In search of the sound, in search of the lost melody, of the lost time.
The search for the lost melody — his Greek aulos flutes, reconstructed by Paul J. Reichlin — has to do with history, with music history only externally. He makes the imaginable music of the Greeks present. His tones are a categorical now. Only in memory, minutes or hours after listening do they become memories. In memory of a performance of Greece.
But when I listen to it, its tones have a precise presence — that is the tone I hear right now. That may seem obvious, but it is a banal observation. But Conrad Steinmann makes me aware of it. Music is now — now, exactly now it is taking place.
CD “Symposion” with the Ensemble Melpomen
On Sunday in the Augustinerkirche, Conrad Steinmann and his ensemble Melpomen also aimed in the same direction: for 15 years the recorder player has been researching Greek music from the 5th century BC, a time from which no musical fragments have survived. This is how Steinmann, together with the instrument maker Paul j. Reichlin, above all from the pictorial depictions of instruments; from the tonal stock of the reconstructed instruments and with references to the rhythms of Greek lyricism, he re-composes, so to speak, ancient pieces. His Auloi (double wind instruments) sound breathy or flute-like, sometimes even bagpipe-like, and together with the voices of Arianna Savall Figueras and Luiz Alves da Silva, with percussion and the fragile-looking plucked instrument Barbitos, they develop a very special, highly lively archaic of their own. Nobody knows whether it actually sounded that way in the 5th century B.C.; but it doesn’t matter at all with the passion with which Steinmann translates his research into sound. (Susanne Kübler, Tages-Anzeiger)
Frans Brüggen, to the newly imagined music of Ancient Greece:
What mastery: great how Conrad Steinmann passes by the Italian Renaissance and immediately falls into the dark role model, I admire it and I admire him.
The strangest noises and sounds I have ever heard. As if there was no world: I thank his great spirit.
Voices to the book: Three flutes for Peter Bichsel
Conrad Steinmann, Three Flutes for Peter Bichsel,
or the magic of the recorder,
25 stories about music, composers, recorder instruments,
Publisher Rüffer and Rub, 2016
Your eulogy for dead and resuscitating protected animals is as powerful as it is tender. You are a great poet dreamer.
Lucien Leitess, publishing director of Union-Verlag:
I read your stories with fascination. So much passion, secrets, friendships, great moments. A new magical world for me, and still worldwide.
Werner Rutishauser, curator at the Museum zu Allerheiligen, Schaffhausen:
A wonderful mixture of quiet prank and solid information, wonderful.
Daniel Fueter, musician and former director of the Musikhochschule Zürich:
In your book I am astonished and enriched and congratulate you from the bottom of my heart. It is an incredibly colorful, unique and wonderfully harmonious mosaic! Congratulations.