john feeney


19 Apr 2013
fanfare review cd 1
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Jan 5, 2010

Fanfare magazine review!!!!

CD Review by Christopher BrodersenDRAGONETTI String Quartet No. 1. String Quintets: No. 13: Adagio; Allegretto; No. 18: Andante; Allegro non troppo; No. 31: Adagio; Presto • John Feeney (db); Loma Mar Qrt (period instruments) • DRAGONETTI’S NEW ACADEMY 2009 (54:50)As John Feeney explains in his liner notes to the CD, during a visit to the British Museum in the early 1990s while on tour with the London Classical Players, he had the good fortune to discover a wealth of unpublished music of Domenico Dragonetti lurking in the museum’s manuscript collection. Thanks to a recommendation from Sir Roger Norrington, Feeney was granted extended access to the manuscripts and made copies over the course of a week. The material on the present CD is a result of that research. One senses that this is only the “tip of the iceberg,” and there is much more to be edited, performed, and recorded. Based on what I’ve heard here, it’s an important addition to the double-bass repertoire, as sparse as it is, and chamber music in general.Although Dragonetti (1763–1846) was considered one of the greatest bass players of all time and highly regarded as a composer in his day, his music today is ranked somewhat below that of his contemporaries Haydn, Boccherini, and Mozart, with whom he shares many stylistic similarities. Yet Haydn was one of his earliest enthusiastic supporters, and later Dragonetti counted Mendelssohn, Paganini, and Liszt among his friends and admirers. Judging by the present CD, perhaps he’s been too hastily judged. The music is consistently tuneful and inventive—although one mustn’t expect the sort of independent part-writing characteristic of Haydn or Mozart. It’s all pretty much the first violin’s show—or in the case of the quintets, the double bass. More about this later.New York concertgoers may recognize the name of John Feeney; he’s the principal bass of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, as well as a frequent collaborator in period-instrument orchestras around the country. He is joined by the Loma Mar Quartet, a New York-based ensemble that plays everything from early music to sessions with Sir Paul McCartney. The quartet (minus the double bass) acquits itself admirably in the Quartet No. 1. The first violin is entrusted with most of the important tunes, and first violinist Krista Bennion Feeney plays exceptionally well. In the Quintets Nos. 13 and 18, the double bass is the star. This is music, of course, that Dragonetti wrote for his own use, and John Feeney conjures up a credible image of what it must have been like to hear the great Dragonetti in person. The music is laden with runs, arpeggios, and stratospheric licks that would challenge many a cellist, and Feeney polishes off all of it as if it were second nature. (I suspect that even the best bass players have to do a lot of woodshedding to get this technically demanding music under the fingers.) In the Quintet No. 31, the double bass has a more perfunctory role replacing the cello (there are two viola parts), but even here the special sound of the double bass, playing in the cello register, makes for some fascinating sonorities.The CD was made possible by the Classical Recording Foundation and can be ordered at Excellent recorded sound. All I can say is, “More, please!” Christopher Brodersen
This article originally appeared in Issue 33:3 (Jan/Feb 2010) of Fanfare Magazine.



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