: Fire & Fury from 18th-century Italy
Bojan Čičić and The Illyria Consort
Delphian DCD34249. 72’52

Vivaldi: Violin Concerto in D, RV205 “fatto per Maestro Pisendel
Vivaldi: Violin Concerto in D, RV213a “per Signora Anna Maria
Tartini: Violin Concerto in E, D 48 “Rondinella vaga e bella
Locatelli: Violin Concerto in D, Op3/12 “Il laberinto armonico

‘Fireworks’ is a term often used to describe virtuosic playing or advanced musical textures but in this case, the connection with the word is real. This CD from violinist Bojan Čičić and his Illyria Consort gets its title from the book Pyrotechnia, the earliest guide to recreational fireworks. It was published in 1635 by the gunner, John Babington. The four violin concertos chosen to display Bojan Čičić’s own virtuosity all have movements ending in a capriccio, a virtuosic display cadenza that became the norm in the later Classical and Romantic era concertos. Several of Vivaldi’s own improvised cadenzas have survived through copies made by his own pupils.

An entire CD devoted to virtuosic playing might be a bit of a turn-off – as would in a concert with a similar programme. But the music on this recording is well balanced with the firework moments integrated into a wider musical texture, and with some beautifully delicate slow movements. Bojan Čičić also wears his virtuosity commendably lightly, playing the most demanding passages with apparent ease and without the over-emphasis or those ‘aren’t I clever’ moments that some musicians are prone to. Having three concertos all in D major is perhaps a little lacking in harmonic variety and several of the individual movements in all four concertos lack much harmonic variety. Whilst that might concentrated listening a trifle tedious, the music is uplifting.