Notes and Editorial Reviews
GIUSEPPE TARTINI AND THE SCHOOL OF NATIONS
Giovanni Guglielmo (vn); O Barocca Andrea Palladio (period instruments)
TACTUS 692005 (79:14)
Solo Violin Sonata in e,
Concerto Grosso No. 5 in e.
Violin Sonata in A,
Duetto No. 6 in C,
Violin Sonata in G.
Violin Sonata in D,
Violin Concerto in g,
GraunWV A:XIII: 9.
Violin Concerto in F,
Giovanni Guglielmo’s and the Orchestra Barocca Andrea Palladio’s compilation of works written by Giuseppe Tartini and members of his School of Nations begins with one of Tartini’s solo violin sonatas, in E Minor, played by Guglielmo on a Bernardus Calcanius from 1712. As usual in Tartini’s works, certain patterns recur. This time, the first movement, an Aria, bears a very close relationship in its arpeggiated figures to the 25th Sonata’s third movement. Guglielmo plays it with both assurance and panache (both difficult to achieve at times due to violinistic but still awkward passages), producing a consistently beautiful tone, perhaps an even more difficult feat. The program continues with a work by Giulio Meneghini, one of Tartini’s pupils, the Concerto Grosso No. 5 in E Minor, a creative reworking, according to Francesco Passadore’s notes, of Tartini’s Violin Sonata in the same key, op. 1/5. The orchestra of only eight players produces a rich and full-bodied tone, especially in the lower registers (the ensemble includes both cello and violone), nevertheless sharply etching the polyphonic lines in the work’s second movement.
Passadore tells the story of the subterfuges Tartini employed to marry Maddalena Lombardini in order to free her from Venice’s Ospedale dei Mendicanti—one of the many stories about Tartini that might make him a subject for a cinematic treatment equal in interest to that of Paganini. Her eventual husband (of short duration), Ludovico Sirmen, appears as the composer of the Sonata in A Major, Pas. S.1.2, a three-movement work that Guglielmo strops to a razor edge in its first movement, exploring the instrument’s upper registers in its opening
, suave in its singing second movement, and buoyant in its third, which again pushes up into the higher ranges of the fingerboard (with these rarefied sonorities enhanced by harmonics). Maddalena’s Duetto No. 6 follows Ludovico’s Sonata on the program. In this work, the violins shuttle the appealing gestures back and forth over an imaginary net, with the rhythmic crispness occasionally underlined by running figuration in one of the parts and punctuated by rhetorical pauses and brusque chordal interjections. Listeners may find that the two violinists aren’t always in perfect sympathy rhythmically, but whatever deficiencies that lack of unanimity might create doesn’t detract from the duet’s overall heady impression.
Johann Gottlieb Naumann, according to Passadore, worked in Dresden as a composer of sacred music, but his Sonata in G Major for violin and harpsichord reveals him as an exponent of
chamber music, with the harpsichord part particularly active (and made to sparkle in this performance by Enrico Zanovello). Two movements of André Noël Pagin’s Sonata in D Major, a Gavotta and a
, appear in the program accompanied by a continuo of harpsichord and bassoon. Pagin, according to Passadore, worked in Paris after studying with Tartini at the age of 20 in about 1740; his work contains many traces of Tartini’s melodic style.
Johann Gottlieb Graun’s Violin Concerto in G Major sounds particularly resonant in the orchestra’s performance. Passadore remarks that the concerto eschews the virtuosic manner (which Tartini himself, despite his works’ vocal manner, never did). Still, the first movement’s passages hiss and spit with an excitement of their own. The second movement sounds chunky, with its organ continuo bulking up the textures but also on occasion smoothing the harmonies.
Pietro Nardini, who studied with Tartini for about six years (according to Passadore), also reputedly nursed his master during his last illness. He’s known to violinists through the once-popular (and spurious) Violin Concerto in E Minor, recorded by Mischa Elman and Jan Tomasow and a concert staple of Florian ZaBach; but it’s not a real concerto, having been assembled and arranged from sonata movements (the popular Sonata in D Major has a greater claim to authenticity, although its movements aren’t all from the same source). In fact, however, listeners may respond even more enthusiastically to the Concerto in F Major, op. 1/3, a work in three forward looking movements (featuring, in this recording, horn parts in the orchestral texture): an infectious
, a flowing, aria-like central
stretched over a pulsing accompaniment, and a stately but buoyant concluding
. Guglielmo’s cockiness lends the piece a confident charm that should make it appeal strongly (and provide some relief) to those familiar only with less authentically Nardinian works. Urgently recommended, with its informative notes, clean recorded sound, and bright performances, to all those who honor the violin and its colorful history.
FANFARE: Robert Maxham