Country : Germany / Italy Label : Passacaille Genres and styles : Classical / Classical Period Year : 2024

Elinor Frey / Accademia de’ dissonanti – Dall’Abaco and the Art of Variation

· by Frédéric Cardin

Dall’Abaco and the Art of Variation will be available from 2 February 2024

I received in the mail (the physical one!) this brand new CD by the cellist Elinor Frey, accompanied by a very kind note signed by her. Elinor is a friend, but that’s quite independent of my admiration for her: she is currently one of the finest baroque cellists on the international scene. She is also a passionate and dedicated musicologist who is constantly advancing our knowledge of the first decades of cello music. Thanks to her, we are now familiar with the music of Jean Baur, Antonio Vandini, Angelo Maria Fiorè, among others, and above all Giuseppe Clemente Dall’Abaco, for whom the Montrealer clearly has a special affection since The Art of the Variation is the third complete album she has devoted to him.

Dall’Abaco was recognized as a leading virtuoso in the 18th century, and his compositions for cello reflect his high level of technique, as well as his understanding of the instrument. His scores combine an excellent sense of melody with harmonic richness and virtuoso lines that provide a solid playing field for instrumentalists. Elinor Frey is easily up to the challenge. Accompanied by Federica Bianchi on harpsichord, Octavie Dostaler-Lalonde on cello (basso continuo) and Michele Pasotti on theorbo, the Accademia di dissonanti of the title, as well as Eva Lymenstull, third cello in the trios, she brings to life a set of compositions (sonatas and trios) that all have a more or less extensive space devoted to the exercise of variation. Whether in a sonata movement or in the refined interweavings of the cello trios, the art of thematic, harmonic, melodic and rhythmic metamorphosis permeates the whole album.

The ensemble playing, as well as the solo passages, are exquisite, also benefiting from a very fine sound recording. It’s a real treat, not just replaying well-trodden repertoire, but inviting us to enrich our knowledge and appreciation of a wide swathe of 18th-century music that we had almost completely forgotten.

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