The progressive success that has accompanied the performances with original instruments over the last fifty years, has complex reasons even if at the same time logical.
There are two main factors that summarise the rediscovery and the increasing appreciation of “ancient music”: semantic understanding and use of the most suitable tools to implement it.
One of the misunderstandings that, in my opinion, however, characterised the recent path of “philological” studies on the six / eighteenth-century repertoire, concerns the concept of authenticity.
For some musicians and scholars it is essential to reproduce the sound, the timbre and the event, as it was then perceived, on a given occasion or according to testimonies, in order to obtain the result closer to the original. All this supported by theoretical treatises, documents or chronicles of the time.
I do not care here to elaborate on the fact that the data we hold attest to a considerable freedom that embraced all possible executive, timbre and structural aspects. What I would like to emphasize instead is that the term “philology”, applied to music, should firstly mean the implementation of a coherent and conscious language that protects first of all the originality, the meaning and the power of the emotions that the composer wanted to express. Not a mere, stale and useless reproduction of an original (supposed), but the reuse of a language, of an idiom, which allows to relive and keep intact today the sensations that the music produced at that time.
In this regard, one aspect that is often the subject of discussion concerns the use and meaning of embellishments, an issue that would require hundreds of pages.
In this context, it is interesting to note the fact that it is widely held to believe that Bach’s music should not be too embellished, or even not at all.
The motivation, briefly, would be to consider the music of the “Kantor” already perfect, complete and comprehensive in its complexity of writing.
The performance of Mauro Valli allows me not to dwell in sustaining my absolute conviction that Bach, despite being an incomparable composer, was a man and musician of his time, and that his music, while extraordinary and unreachable, responded to logic common to those of the other composers of his time.
In fact, listening to these Suites helps us to understand and give us back the true meaning of the “da capo”, and attests that the related ornaments want to underline and emphasize the passages and affections, making this music even more enjoyable, transcending one ( presumed) authenticity, and at the same time in the absolute respect of a concrete, current and sincere philology.
The juxtaposition with Gabrielli’s Researchers, although not supported by documentary evidence, is even more fascinating (not only for the analogies relating to the tonality and the instrumental destination), if one thinks of another Italian author of the seventeenth century, Girolamo Frescobaldi , who with his “Musical Flowers”, had a considerable influence on Bach and his speculative production.
Ottavio Dantone, 25 March 2018