john feeney


19 Apr 2013
Still More reviews
Rah rah rah.

Back to School with “Dragonetti’s New Academy”


By Sherri Rase

“Dragonetti’s New Academy” includes previously unpublished and unknown works by Domenico Dragonetti, a contemporary of Haydn, Mozart and Boccherini, who was less revered in his day, his skill in performance ranked much more highly than his skill as a composer.  Yet listening to the works in this Classical Recording Foundation Award winner for 2009, it seems that the critique of Dragonetti’s compositions may have been premature. John Feeney, the principal bass of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s in New York City, and highly regarded as a bass player today, found these works during a sojourn in the British Museum nearly 15 years ago.  The Loma Mar Quartet joins Feeney on this recording.  Loma Mar is an eclectic New York-based ensemble, known for playing everything from Haydn to jazz to recording with Sir Paul McCartney.  Pooling their considerable talents, they form the new DNA Quintet.

Spring is the perfect time for Baroque.  The fine tintinnabulous-fabulousness of Baroque music is tailor made for sparkling sunshine or rainy spring days.  The passion of some of the early pieces on the album brings evening pleasures to mind, while later pieces are great for the iPod playlist you use for travel.
The music Mr. Feeney located in the British Museum is part of its manuscript collection.  Feeney felt Dragonetti’s works need a larger canvas and wider recognition.  When he returned to the United States after his weeklong visit in 1996 with copies, he knew that today’s musicians needed to hear more of this lost master’s work. Grancino Editions is publishing this music.

Feeney’s virtuosity is well complimented by the performers in the Loma Mar Quartet.  Krista Bennion Feeney and Anca Nicolau, the violinists; Joanna Hood, on viola; and Myron Lutzke, as cellist, have been performing as the Loma Mar Quartet since 1997, when Bard College invited the group to perform Haydn String Quartets.  They are as voracious in genre as they are accomplished in performance, making the listening even more delightful on glistening spring days.

Dragonetti, as many artists experience, was successful in his lifetime, but not as much acclaimed as his contemporaries, whose names are more familiar today.  In 1763, he was born to a poor family and his father Pietro was a guitar and double bass player.  As sometimes happens, the child surpasses the parent and Domenico’s virtuosity began with lessons from a professional when his amateur father could only take him so far.  Michele Berini taught the young Dragonetti and at thirteen Domenico became the principal bassist of Vence’ Opera buffo, which ultimately led to his appointment as a section contrabassist at the Ducal Chapel of St. Mark’s.  As Domenico continued to progress, he also got the opportunity to showcase his own works and this led to travel around Europe, and he eventually settled in London where he would spend most of the rest of his life.  He rubbed shoulders with familiar names, who loved him and his work, including that supreme architect of music, Beethoven, co-virtuoso Mozart, Mendelssohn, Paganini, Rossini and Haydn.

What’s the buzz about?  Go back to school, old school, and get your copy of “Dragonetti’s New Academy.”  My copy is with me wherever I go.



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