Italian label Stradivarius is actively recording all 86 known works of Veronese composer Evaristo Felice Dall'Abaco and a previous entry consisting of trio sonatas from Dall'Abaco's Opp. 1 & 3 was quite good. This follow-up recording of concertos, Evaristo Felice Dall'Abaco: Concerto à più Istrumenti Opera Quinta, taken from Dall'Abaco's Op. 5, though, is really quite outstanding thanks to the performers involved, the Veronese Baroque orchestra Il Tempio Armonico, whose first commercial recording this is. The group has a terrific sense of ensemble dynamics, and the swells of volume in the Allegro of Dall'Abaco's Concerto Op. 5/3 are placed exactly where they should be, flowing right along with the music. Il Tempio Armonico can move with ease from a blisteringly blustery texture to a luscious Adagio and does much to provide depth and color to Dall'Abaco's music. The violin solos, by leader Davide Monti, are both sensitive and probative, such as in the Largo of Concerto Op. 5/1, and Monti is not averse to employing some flexibility of tempo for expressive effect. As a whole, Il Tempio Armonico have a nice body of sound as a group and employ subtly swinging rhythm in the ensemble allegros -- check out the Allegro e spiccato that opens Concerto Op. 5/4; it jams!
At the turn of the twentieth century, there was a good deal of excitement about Dall'Abaco owing to the excellent qualities of his music, but the discovery of Antonio Vivaldi in the 1920s rather blew Dall'Abaco out of the water. Although his music has been recorded once in a while, most notably by Concerto Köln for Teldec, not much of what has appeared did more for this composer than simply establish that he is not Vivaldi. Il Tempio Armonico's Stradivarius debut Evaristo Felice Dall'Abaco: Concerto à più Istrumenti Opera Quinta gives an account of Dall'Abaco that finally imparts some inkling of what the excitement was all about and portends a thrilling future for Il Tempio Armonico. The sound is a bit more reverberant than would be the norm for labels such as Teldec or Harmonia Mundi, but it is a pleasant ambience that sets off this small orchestra of about 15 players. Fanciers of Baroque music will say, "Let's have some more of this!"