Tartini & Veracini: Italian Violin Sonatas

Tartini & Veracini: Italian Violin Sonatas
Rie Kimura & Fantasticus
Resonus RES10148. 57’58

Although Tartini is better known nowadays, no doubt because of the myths surrounding his ‘Devil’s Trill’ sonata, it was the virtuoso violinist Veracini that was hitting the headlines in early 17th century Italy, Dresden and London. There is a certain degree of comeuppance in the fact that Tartini was described (by Charles Burney) as a humble and timid man, whereas the now relatively unknown Veracini was considered ‘foolishly vainglorious’. When Veracini descended upon London, Roger North was scathing in his criticism of the influx of Italian violinists, based on hearing Veracini play – in a style he described as ‘not better than insane’.

Veracini’s two Sonata on this CD, from his 1744 Sonate Accademiche perhaps reinforce the point, particularly the 5th Sonata. The opening Sonata (his 12th) is a rather different matter, with the academic credentials to the fore. It explores the descending chromatic fourth in its various guises, using Passacaglio, Capriccio and Ciaccona forms. It has the making of a mini-opera in the Stylus phantasticus mode of a generation earlier, with changes mood enhancing, or contradicting the usual rather melancholic feel of the 6-note motif – the latter emphasised in the languid Adagio that introduces the more jovial final section, the latter’s mood momentarily interrupted by a return of the theme before its coda.

Tartini is represented by said Sonata ‘Il trillo del Diavolo’, and the 1732 Pastorale, the latter representing the forthcoming change of style in Tartini’s compositions that occurred around 1744 when he adopted a more measured and relaxed style. The title is fully justified by the musical contents, with its depiction of the hunt, the sound of the hurdy-gurdy, shepherd’s pipes, and various other country pursuits. The Devil’s Trill Sonata is treated with respect by Rie Kimura, with only the occasional slither to a note revealing the temptation to overdo the implications of the title. The actual trills only occurs on a few occasions during the last movement, and is as impressive for the double stopping and finger dexterity skills required than for any diabolic connections.

Rie Kimura is a most impressive violinist, with a keen insight into the musical and emotional structure of the music – helped by such score indications as Veracini’s ‘Con grandissima Gravita’  marking at the start of his Op2/5 Sonata. She is very ably supported by the two other members of the group Fantasticus, Robert Smith, baroque cello and Guillermo Brachetta, playing a sensitive harpsichord continuo.


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