Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Francesco Maria Veracini, Pietro Locatelli, Giuseppe Tartini|
Italian Violin Sonatas: Fabio Biondi/Europa Galante
One tends to associate the virtuoso violin repertoire with the 19th century, but in their own way these five sonatas, written between 1714 and 1743, offer an equally dazzling display of speed, facility, bow control and ton... more »
One tends to associate the virtuoso violin repertoire with the 19th century, but in their own way these five sonatas, written between 1714 and 1743, offer an equally dazzling display of speed, facility, bow control and tonal variety. No wonder: the composers were among the foremost violin virtuosos of their time, as well as tireless innovators of technique and style; several even wrote treatises on violin playing. The earliest, and least familiar, is Michele Mascitti, a Neapolitan who moved to Paris when he was 30. His "Psyché," the program's only piece in a major key, is a divertissement in ten short "tableaux" on the theme of Cupid and Psyche, with the violin and continuo as the two protagonists. Refined and elegant, varied in texture, expression and character, it ranges from tender love songs to slow and fast dances, including a wild Badinage. Veracini's Sonata Op. 1 No. 1, a dance suite with an unusually active cello part, opens with a slow Overture and ends with a Giga del Postiglione, in which the violin imitates a posthorn's call. The other three sonatas are basically dramatic and melancholy, highly ornamented, full of double stops, running passages and cadenzas. Locatelli's is distinguished by a very elaborate keyboard part and a lot of spiky syncopation in the finale. Geminiani makes the violin sound quite luscious, almost romantic; his rhythms and phrases are startlingly irregular. He shares the exploration of the high register with Tartini, whose Sonata displays his incomparable melodic gift and trademark obsession with trills. The performances are beyond praise. Biondi, one of the deservedly most renowned baroque violinists, plays with enormous brilliance, expressiveness, and endlessly varied articulation and nuance; there is a sense of spontaneous exhilaration in his inventive, improvisatory ornamentation: he seems to be playing with the music and the violin. His partners, some manning several instruments, match him in every way. --Edith Eisler
All roads lead back to Rome - and Corelli
Alan Lekan | Boulder, CO | 11/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The liner notes give a colorful history of the five "minor composers" of the Italian violin virtuoso era featured on this CD - revealing a fascinating commonality (beyond the fact that all their names end in the letter "i"). And this was that they all seeem to have been guided, metaphorically at least, to Rome and Arcangelo Corelli. All studied his methods, modelled his style and payed homage to his legend in their compositions seen here on this sampler of a few not-so-famous Italian violin sonatas. Like Corelli, many of these composers wrote brilliant concerto grossi in the spirit of the master. But the less exaulted sonatas here are no less musically interesting - especially when played by one of the masters of the Italian Baroque, Fabio Biondi.
The lead Amazon reviewer above summarized this CD well, so no need to repeat much, other than to say that the collection of violin sonatas here are wonderfully played with the typical verve, artistry, expressivity and sensuous tone that has earned Biondi an enthusiastic following worldwide. If you like Biondi in Vivaldi, Bach or other his other Baroque music, this CD will surely not disappoint. It spotlights his lyrical talents in a more intimate way via the simpler violin sonata genre. The sound quality on Veritas/Virgin is pleasantly forward, most vivid and is very good overall (but not quite perfect). As with most of the Virgin recordings I have of the Europa Galante as compared to others, there seems to be a depth of "sound stage" somewhat lacking (to me at least), but really nothing to discourage aquiring and enjoying this CD or the others. Five stars for a most enthalling performance of these lesser-known works from Biondi and the Galante."
Want Some Fiery Fiddling?
Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 11/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Felefeber" is a Scandinavian word for fiery fiddling, and that's what Fabio Biondi has to offer on this disk - virtuosic bow-work on his Baroque violin, with stunning use of double stops and the full tonal potential of gut strings. I know I've given out a lot of five-star reviews to Baroque ensembles lately, so I'll have to give this disk 6 or 7 to distinguish it. The big surprise for me is the Pysche suite by Michele Mascitti, a composer I'd never encountered before. It's fresh, eccentric, complex, and intellectually as well as sensually satisfying. The continuo of organ, cello, and theorbo is both brilliantly supportive of the fiddle-fire and at times independently expressive. The A minor sonata by Francesco Geminiani is also powerfully shaped and full of affect. If your sense of the Baroque violin repertory is centered on Vivaldi, you will be very delightfully surprised to hear how different the same musical language could sound when "spoken" by other Italian virtuosi.
This disk was released in 2003; my only complaint is that it's taken four years to reach me."
The Italian Fiddler at His Best
Timothy D. Hinck | Chattanooga, TN USA | 02/25/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can't overstate the importance of these contemporary recordings of Italian music by Italian bands. It may be cliched to say that it takes an Italian to properly perform Italian music, but in this case it certainly seems to be the case. The sense of drama is so effective: the facility with which this group can drop from fortissimo to pianissimo, the timing of dramatic pauses, the variation in articulation, etc. There is a very advanced and improvisatory approach to ornamentation and vibrato (a much more liberal, but yet tasteful use of the latter than is found in the Northern-European recordings of this music). This is really the showcase album for Europa Galante's leader Fabio Biondi and his terrifying virtuosity and artistry. The only thing more terrifying than this intense and ferocious music is when it is placed in the hands of fiddler with such great music taste and control."