Notes and Editorial Reviews
That these musical treasures have lain hidden away from humankind for so long is scandalous, and kudos to Dynamic and L'Arte dell'Arco for bringing them out of the vaults and on display.
This is Volume 16 - CDs 26 and 27 - in Dynamic's massive edition of Giuseppe Tartini's complete violin concertos, all performed by Italian chamber ensemble L'Arte dell'Arco. No indication is given either in the otherwise informative booklet or on Dynamic's wilfully uninformative website as to how many more volumes are due to be released. So far a magnificent 115 concertos have appeared. Precisely how many that leaves is rather a debatable point. The difficulties raised for musicologists trying to establish a chronology of Tartini's
works by his practice of leaving autographs undated is often discussed in liner and programme notes, but what is generally not mentioned is the most salient fact - that Tartini deliberately left the dates out, not because it was the vogue, or because he was lackadaisical, but because he usually revised his works, often substantially. In other words, it is not at all unusual for there to be several versions of a piece, and no way of discerning for sure which changes pre- or post-date which.
Be that as it may, Tartini's concertos are a titanic achievement, not only in number or their historical significance, but also as outstanding works of art.
All the works on this release have been dated by musicologist Minos Dounias - whose catalogue of works, with groupings made according to key, provides the numbering used in these volumes - on stylistic grounds, to Tartini's so-called 'second period': from 1735 to 1750. Like all Tartini's violin concertos, these are not orchestral works, but
concerti a 5 - for solo violin, four further string parts (violin, viola, cello and violone) and continuo (harpsichord). Tartini's early concertos - those of his op.1 and op.2 in particular - were often based on models of his lifelong hero, Arcangelo Corelli, but by Tartini's second period Antonio Vivaldi's massive influence had more or less crystallised the concerto form into a basic fast-slow-fast shape, with the slow movement now self-standing and lyrical. That is the pattern for all the concertos in this set.
There are five works on the considerably shorter first disc, two of which have alternative second movements, including the opening
Concerto in D, D.30, whose two quite different Andante movements - the first sunny, the second autumnal - are both lovely and suit the outer Allegros admirably. According to the notes, there are three versions of the
Concerto in F, D.66 - perhaps the others will appear in the next volume or an appendix? The
Concerto in B flat, D.119 is the second with an alternative slow movement, each again quite different from one another - a simple but intensely lyrical Andante larghetto versus an almost plaintive Cantabile. The
Concerto in G, D.81 opens with a spry march-like Allegro, followed by a poignant Vivaldian Largo andante. The closing work on the first disc is the
Concerto in E, D.53, especially memorable, as with so many of Tartini's concertos, for its expressive slow movement.
The second, bountifully-packed disc also opens with a
Concerto in D, D.38, a jaunty work again reminiscent of Vivaldi, though the elegant final movement pays homage to Corelli. The
Concerto in A, D.108 may be the shortest of all those in this volume, but it is no less agreeable, from its sprightly dance-like first movement that looks forward to the new galant style of early Giovanni Viotti, to its continuo-less Larghetto, and the birdsong of the bucolic third. The imaginative first and third movements of the
Concerto in F, D.69 have some of the most virtuosic writing for solo violin in this volume, expertly handled by Carlo Lazari. The
Concerto in A, D.104 again shows signs of Tartini's gradual adoption of galant style. The
Concerto in C, D.12 is the final work to have two slow movements included, although in this case one misleadingly follows the other, without even being marked explicitly as the two previous were. The first Andante carries a verse by Metastasio which begins "Felice età d'oro" ("Happy Golden Age" or perhaps in a poetic context, "Halcyon Days") - also the fittingly lyrical subtitle of this release - whereas the second is marked with the considerably more downcast "Misero pargoletto" ("Unhappy Child", also from Metastasio and later set by Schubert in his D.42). Either way, the concerto closes in the optimistic style typical of Tartini. The volume ends as it began, with a
Concerto in D, D.29. Nicola Reniero says in his liner-notes that this is the only work "that has some distant echoes of Vivaldi's style". It is hard to agree with that - Vivaldi's influence seems omnipresent. On the other hand, Tartini had at least as much genius as Vivaldi, at any rate in instrumental writing - Tartini wrote almost no vocal music - and all of these works are, with familiarity, instantly recognisable as Tartini's uniquely.
L'Arte dell'Arco - literally 'The Art of the Bow' - perform as usual on responsive original instruments, and grow in confidence and expertise with every volume. They are equal to Tartini's understated virtuosity and rhythmic invention and play in a fashion of which Tartini himself would surely have approved - in a neutral but warm style, with gusto but without affectation.
Sound quality is very good, with an important but often neglected couple of bars' worth of rests between movements. Just occasionally, passing traffic can be faintly heard, so perhaps now would be a good time for the proprietors of Studio Magister to consider renovating their soundproofing. The multilingual booklet is soberly but attractively done. The English translation is slightly light-headed in places, but the intelligence of Nicola Reniero's writing more than compensates.
As with several previous volumes, all concertos are marked as 'First Recordings'. That these musical treasures have lain hidden away from humankind for so long is scandalous, and kudos to Dynamic and L'Arte dell'Arco for bringing them out of the vaults and on display.
-- Byzantion, MusicWeb International
Works on This Recording
Concerto for Flute in G major, D 81 by Giuseppe Tartini
Federico Guglielmo (Violin)
Written: 18th Century; Italy
Concerto for Violin in E major, D 53 by Giuseppe Tartini
Federico Guglielmo (Violin)
Written: circa 1750-1760; Italy
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