john feeney


19 Apr 2013
Juilliard Journal Review
Another review of the first disc.

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A (Mostly) Forgotten Composer and Violin Duos, With Grit and CreamBy BRUCE HODGESApril 2010

Dragonetti’s New Academy. Chamber Music of Domenico Dragonetti. John Feeney, double bass; Loma Mar Quartet. (DNA2009)

Born seven years before Beethoven, Domenico Dragonetti (1763-1846) was a bona fide double-bass virtuoso, who at age 13 became principal bassist at the Opera Buffa in Venice. With this outstanding and subtle recording—performed on period instruments—John Feeney, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Juilliard, shows a sampling of Dragonetti’s work that reveals a talented composer perhaps neglected by time. In the 1990s, while working with Sir Roger Norrington and the London Classical Players, Feeney unearthed four works (a quartet and three quintets) in the British Museum, and these first recordings are the result. The exemplary sound quality is courtesy of Adam Abeshouse, who has done a beautiful job capturing the muted, sinewy qualities of the instruments in the clear acoustic of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

The exuberant, two-movement Quintet No.18 begins with a brief Andante, followed by an Allegro with a catchy motif resembling a hunting call. Feeney’s sprightly treatment of the theme will be difficult to get out of your head. The Loma Mar Quartet follows with the Quartet No. 1, in five brief movements including a particularly charming Viennese waltz as a Presto, and seductive violin writing throughout. The musicians (Krista Bennion Feeney and Anca Nicolau, violins; Joanna Hood, viola; and Juilliard alum Myron Lutzke, cello) imbue every bar with graceful energy—even a bit of humor.

Feeney returns to join them in the elegant Quintet No. 31 (with Gregor Kitzis on viola), and here the double bass briefly steps aside, allowing the first violin to take center stage, especially in the galloping second movement. The opening of Quintet No. 13 that concludes the program is in haunting contrast—somber and slightly mournful. But soon Feeney plunges into the challenging final Allegro with gusto, displaying some of his most impressive playing of the entire disc.



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