The artfulness of virtuoso composer-performers, nurtured and cherished in the 17th century, is at the centre of this lovely new release, cleverly reinforced by violinist Dorian Komanoff Bandy’s choice of repertoire. Presented here are variations and sonatas from 17th-century German composers Schenck, Walther, Biber, Pisendel and Becker. Variations, arguably a favourite compositional technique of that time, allowed both composers and performers to display their respective abilities and imagination by the way of building up rich melodic and harmonic material over a short, repeated theme, usually in the bass. Similar to lovers and mourners, going through spiraling, intense emotions, the music here expresses meandering states via “stylus phanansticus,” a popular compositional style of that time that was free flowing, improvisational and characterized by swirling virtuosic elements.
Bandy’s virtuosity is on full display here – relentless, precise and, above all, dazzling. He draws beautiful colours out of his Baroque violin, even amidst the fast passages or more uniform material. The emotional scope of his interpretation is impressive, especially in Biber’s sonatas. The Baroque-style articulations are brought to life with well thought-out phrasing and back and forth trading of ideas within the ensemble. Harpsichordist Hank Knox and gambist Elinor Frey, although mostly in the supporting roles in this repertoire, are nevertheless essential in building the overall sound and direct a spotlight on the inventiveness of these compositions.