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Devil's Trill: Veracini, Tartini, Bonporti

Tartini / Imaginarium Ensemble / Onofri
Release Date: 07/30/2013 
Label:  Passacaille   Catalog #: 996   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Giuseppe TartiniFrancesco Maria VeraciniGiovanni MossiFrancesco Antonio Bonporti
Conductor:  Enrico Onofri
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Imaginarium
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 0 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

THE DEVIL’S TRILL Imaginarium Ens PASSACAILLE 996 (60:36)

TARTINI The Devil’s Trill. VERACINI Violin Sonatas: in e, op. 2/8; in g, op. 2/5. MOSSI Violin Sonata in A, op. 1/2. BONPORTI Read more class="ARIAL12bi">Inventione No. 4 in G

Enrico Onofri’s recording of “virtuoso” Baroque violin sonatas explores the meaning of the adjective “virtuoso,” expanding it beyond the traditional sense exemplified by Nicolò Paganini and his followers (and earlier, of course, by Pietro Locatelli, Antonio Lolli, and their counterparts) to embrace striking expressive effects like the messa di voce that figures in Onofri’s performances. His program opens with Giuseppe Tartini’s well-known Devil’s Trill —well known, perhaps, but mostly from Jean-Baptiste Cartier’s late 18th-century anthology L’Art du violon and its progeny (Joseph Szigeti’s brief history of editions begins here). Onofri, on the other hand, has gone back to what he considers an even earlier source, an imperfect manuscript now in the library of the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua. Onofri assumes that much has been done to alter the version that Cartier printed; he uses it only to correct the manuscript he used in preparing his reading. Imaginarium’s, cellist, Alessandro Palmeri, plays Tartini’s skeletal bass line unadorned—Andrew Manze, in his recording of the work in Tartini: The Devil’s Sonata , (Harmonia Mundi 907213, Fanfare 21:5), dispensed with the continuo altogether—but harpsichordist Riccardo Doni remains almost hyperactive throughout the first movement. Onofri himself adds expressive ornaments to enhance the solo line. The booklet gives the title of the second movement simply as Allegro rather than as Allegro giusto , Cartier’s designation (Fritz Kreisler retitled it Allegro energico ). Onofri takes the movement at a fast clip, adding ornamental runs and crescendos stretching over a number of measures to keep Tartini’s metric engine purring. And he surrounds the Devil’s Trill itself in the last movement, but forgoes the opportunity provided in Cartier’s version (which Kreisler exploited to the highest degree of effectiveness) to provide a cadenza near the end. Throughout, Onofri includes the by-now obligatory nasal snorts at the beginnings of movements; the engineers have captured their full, rich resonance.

Francesco Maria Veracini’s Sonata in E Minor from his Sonate Accademiche has become perhaps his most enduring single work. Onofri and the ensemble bring technical savvy as well as a combination of witty interplay and dynamic subtlety to the first movement. He balances piquant staccatos with flowing cantabile in the second, concluding with his own bracing cadenza at the end, and energizes with strong dynamic contrasts the Giga that brings the Sonata to a close.

The notes, presumably by Onofri, describe the Sonata by Roman violinist Giovanni Mossi as a compendium of violinistic elements, and these come immediately—and overwhelmingly—to the fore in the work’s second movement. In such moments, Onofri displays the brilliance that listeners who remember his striking version of Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons expect from him, but without punk cockiness; he and the ensemble endow the last movement with all the gravitas its fugal material suggests.

The Fifth Sonata from Veracini’s op. 2 opens with several examples of the messa di voce , the force of which may be lost on listeners unaware of its importance as an expressive device in the period during which Veracini wrote the Sonata—and of the difficulty of producing it. (Onofri cites Tartini’s advice to his student Maddalena Lombardini-Sirmen to practice the effect for an hour daily.) In the second movement, the ensemble sets the skittish violin accompaniment effectively against the melody presented in the continuo. Their exuberance lasts through all four movements into the Giga Finale.

Fabio Biondi gave an account of these two sonatas in his collection of four of the works from the composer’s op. 2 and a Capriccio in G Minor (Opus 111 OPS 30, Fanfare 19:1); Onofri’s tonal suavity and technical alertness resemble Biondi’s. Elizabeth Wallfisch’s complete set of the sonatas with the Locatelli Trio (Hyperion CDA 66871/3, which I mentioned as “magnificent” in the same issue of Fanfare ) will appeal most strongly to those who prefer a less compromising approach to tone and technique in Baroque music, believing it to be more historically informed, though her vivacity and sense of fancy should endear her playing of these works to any listener.

Francesco Antonio Bonporti’s Inventione No. 4 pours the same joie de vivre into a work combining dances (a Balletto and a Corrente ) with an Aria after an opening Largo . Onofri justifies the inclusion of this piece by reference to its expressive Aria and thereby further develops his theory that Baroque virtuosity encompassed more than mere finger-wiggling.

The engineers have provided a close-up portrait of the performers and their instruments (Onofri plays on an anonymous early 18th-century Italian violin) and their sonorous respiratory individualities. But the clarity of the picture yields precedence to the performances themselves, as well as to the vibrant quality of the repertory. Strongly recommended.

FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

Sonata for Violin and Basso Continuo in G minor, Op. 1 no 4 "Devil's Trill" by Giuseppe Tartini
Conductor:  Enrico Onofri
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Imaginarium
Period: Baroque 
Written: Italy 
Venue:  Cascina Giardino, Crema (CR, Italy) 
Length: 10 Minutes 13 Secs. 
Sonatas (12) accademiche for Violin and Basso Continuo, Op. 2: no 8 in E minor by Francesco Maria Veracini
Conductor:  Enrico Onofri
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Imaginarium
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1744; Italy 
Venue:  Cascina Giardino, Crema (CR, Italy) 
Length: 11 Minutes 58 Secs. 
Sonata for violin & continuo No. 2 in A major, Op. 1/2 by Giovanni Mossi
Conductor:  Enrico Onofri
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Imaginarium
Venue:  Cascina Giardino, Crema (CR, Italy) 
Length: 8 Minutes 29 Secs. 
Sonata for violin & continuo in G minor, Op. 2/5 by Francesco Maria Veracini
Conductor:  Enrico Onofri
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Imaginarium
Period: Baroque 
Venue:  Cascina Giardino, Crema (CR, Italy) 
Length: 14 Minutes 19 Secs. 
Inventions (10) for Violin and Basso Continuo, Op. 10: no 4 in G minor by Francesco Antonio Bonporti
Conductor:  Enrico Onofri
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Imaginarium
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1712; Italy 
Venue:  Cascina Giardino, Crema (CR, Italy) 
Length: 10 Minutes 20 Secs. 

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