Concertos for double bass Nos. 2 to 4
Jan Krigovsky (double bass); Collegium Wartberg 430
Challenge Classics CC 72915 (CD/SACD) 69:22 min
Johann Matthias Sperger, an Austrian contemporary of Haydn, was a double bass virtuoso and a prolific composer holding important positions in several court orchestras until the end of the 18th century. Unsurprisingly, Sperger has been particularly invested in the promotion of the double bass and has written no less than 18 concertos for his instrument, most of which have only recently been rediscovered.
The three concertos presented here and written between 1778 and 1779 display a lot of melodic charm, character and good humor, if not perhaps the greatest originality. Nonetheless, Sperger unveils an array of different string techniques to keep you continually engaged. Moreover, he exploits the highest and lowest ranges of the instrument with such imagination that any idea that the double bass lacks the dexterity and expressiveness needed to be an effective soloist is simply blown away.
These sparkling, vividly recorded performances by Ján Krigovsky and the Slovak period instrument group Collegium Wartberg 430 were recorded in the very auditorium in which Sperger first performed the works. Krigovsk´in it dazzles the listener with brilliant passages and witty cadenzas, and the orchestral accompaniments of each concerto are remarkably varied. This is particularly the case with the Fourth Concerto where the introduction of the dulcimer as a sort of continuo instrument emphasizes a closer proximity between concert music and folk music than one would normally expect. works composed at that time.