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Giuseppe TARTINI (1692-1770)
Violin Concertos: Concerto for violin and strings in A major, D.96; Concerto for violin and strings in B minor, D.125; Concerto for violin and strings in C major, D.2; Concerto for violin and strings; in A minor, D.115 'A Lunardo Venier'; Concerto for violin and strings in F major, D.67
Piero Toso (violin)
I solisti Veneti/Claudio Scimone
Previously released material rec Villa Trieste, Vaccarino, Italy, June 1970. ADD
WARNER CLASSICS APEX 2564 60152 2 [67:55]

Recordings of Tartiniís works have progressed considerably both in number and style since these were made in 1970 using modern instruments. I recall their original release but do not have them in my collection. At that time recordings of Tartini (with the exception of the Devilís Trill sonata) were as rare as Ďhenís teethĎ. This issue is slowly being addressed as Tartini recordings are now much more commonly available on disc. In fact, at my last count the period instrument ensemble Líarte DellíArco, under director/violinist Giovanni Guglielmo, for the Genoa-based Dynamic label have now released 14 volumes of Tartiniís works.

I have read that of the 200 or so known Tartini violin concertos as many as 70 are thought to be missing. However a small number of the lost concertos were discovered recently in the Bibliothèque Nationale, in Paris and have now been recorded. The five concertos on this Apex release give a good cross-section of the violin concertos composed across Tartiniís life. There is no reliable chronology for Tartiniís compositions which is a consistent problem. A number of his works were published in his lifetime but only a relative small amount with his authorisation, so the timescale between composition and publication remains unclear.

Tartiniís concertos generally follow the established three movement design of Vivaldiís Allegro-Adagio-Allegro. The central movement is usually presented in a contrasting key with the outer movements being based on the standard tutti-ritornello alternation, occasionally interrupted by a substantial solo passage.

It is fascinating to see the progression of Tartiniís concerto-model as he began to slowly develop the expressive possibilities of his music in terms of more sophisticated technique. He returned later to a more austere conception of structure but still displaying a deepening of thought and an enrichment of expression.

Tartini broke little new ground in terms of innovation but did make some reforms to the conventional concerto form. For example the use of a capriccio section, a brief stanza at the start of the concerto, fuller use of ornamentations and increased technical virtuosity for the soloist all became dominant features. Particularly successful are Tartiniís beautiful slow movements that frequently plumb real emotional depths and display a meditative and intense passion, yet still maintaining grace and dignity. The more I hear Tartiniís works the more I hold the view that although he does not have Vivaldiís innate gift for melody Tartiniís music has a deeper soul.

On this Apex recording the playing of violin soloist Piero Toso matches his impeccable credentials. Toso is on fine form in these concertos, displaying a lovely tone throughout but tends to come across more as a technician rather than a showman using dazzling pyrotechnics. His playing is measured, concentrated and Iím sure deeply felt, but for my taste I would have liked a few risks to have been taken. In fact the whole recording, as fine as it is, could have been ratcheted-up a few notches to provide a more exciting experience.

The ensemble I solisti Veneti using modern instruments, give a controlled performance, under the experienced direction of Claudio Scimone. Perhaps the proceedings are too controlled overall, as in the Allegro movements I would have preferred the soloist and director to have agreed the adoption of a more liberal tempo. The warm recorded sound is adequate but comes across as slightly cloudy. To enhance the colour of the individual instruments the recording would have really benefited from a sharper detail.

Although playing different violin concertos to those contained on this release there is a superb recording that was released last year on Hungaroton 32045 that provides a marvellous example of how Tartiniís music can really sparkle and display a wide range of colours. Using period instruments the Orfeo Orchestra under the direction of Gyorgy Vashegyi with violin soloist Laszlo Paulik give a groundbreaking performance that made me see Tartini in a new light. To be candid this Apex recording pales by comparison.

These are tried and tested performances on modern instruments that received fine reviews when first released but now there are several newer recordings that portray Tartini in an improved light. In short this Apex recording would not be my first choice if I desired a recording of a sample of Tartiniís violin concertos.

Michael Cookson

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