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Early Music

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger



Giuseppe TARTINI (1692-1770)
Five Violin Concertos

Concerto for violin and strings in D major, D.15
Concerto for violin and strings in G major, D.78
Concerto for violin and strings in B flat major, D.123
Concerto for violin and strings in G major, D.80
Concerto for violin and strings in A minor, D.115
Gordan Nikolitch (violin)
Orchestre d’Auvergne/Arie van Beek
rec. Eglise de Saint-Saturnin, Puy-de-Dome, France, 1996. DDD
Previously released material
REGIS RECORDS RRC 1157 [76:09]



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It is not too long ago that recordings of Tartini (with the exception of the Devil’s Trill sonata) were as rare as ‘hen’s teeth‘. This issue is slowly being addressed as Tartini recordings are now much more commonly available on disc. For example at my last count the period instrument ensemble L’Arte dell’Arco, under director/violinist Giovanni Guglielmo have now recorded at least 14 volumes of Tartini’s works for the Genoa-based Dynamic label.

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 Regis release give a good cross-section of the concertos composed across Tartini’s life. There is no reliable chronology for Tartini’s compositions which is a consistent problem although educated guesses can often be broadly made with reference to his compositional style. In fact the musicologist Dounais has catalogued Tartini’s music according to their key. A number of works were published in his lifetime but only a relative small amount with his authorisation, so the time-scale between composition and publication remains unclear.

Tartini’s concertos generally follow the established three movement design Allegro-Andante-Allegro popularised by Antonio Vivaldi. The central slow 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 Tartini’s 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 in his ‘early period’ up to 1735 Tartini included the use of cadenzas which he referred to as a Capriccio section.

The more I hear Tartini’s works the more I hold the view that although he does not have Vivaldi’s innate gift for melody Tartini’s music often has a deeper soul. Particularly successful, as displayed on this Regis release, are Tartini’s beautiful slow movements that frequently plumb real emotional depths and display a meditative and intense passion, yet still maintain grace and dignity.

It is with a feeling of authentic ease that soloist Gordan Nikolitch and the Orchestre d’Auvergne under Arie van Beek communicate these delightful works with warmth and sensitivity. Nikolitch is technically secure and displays a clear and most agreeable tone. His interpretations are attractive and polished without ever being distinguished; extremely acceptable nevertheless.

With regard to the adequate sound quality, which is rather warmish, I would have preferred a slightly sharper focus. The booklet notes from James Murray are concise yet interesting and informative. The Regis label clearly use previously released material for their releases and can offer their ever increasing catalogue at prices that are frankly jaw-droppingly cheap. But by cheap I don’t mean cheap as in nasty but cheap as in inexpensive. So don’t be put off by thinking that this recording cannot be any good. The several Regis releases that I have come across are not only amazing value but offer very acceptable performances in their own right.

Michael Cookson



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