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Giuseppe TARTINI (1692-1770)
Violin Sonatas Le Sonate del Tasso
Sonata XV in G major
Sonata XVII in D major
Sonata XIX in D major
Sonata XII in G major
Jean Estournet (violin)
Thérèse Pollet (cello)
Hans Ludwig Hirsch (harpsichord and organ)
Recorded Villa Emo, Fanzolo Veneto, 1986
ARTS 47298-2 [49.15]


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All four of these sonatas refer to the Aria del Tasso, which is why they’ve been designated with the name of ‘Tasso Sonatas’. Sonatas XII, XV and XVII contain an aria from the twelfth episode of Gerusalemme liberate and XIX, after a series of variations, seems to be derived from it as well. They’re conjecturally dated to around 1745-49 and it’s possible that Tartini sent these "little sonatas" to Berlin for publication. In the autograph some of the bass parts are missing, whilst others have been inserted in another hand. Clearly some editorial decisions were necessary for this recording, made as long ago as 1986 and re(?)-released on Arts. They’ve involved remaining true to the autograph copy so those without a bass line stay that way; those with a bass line have used a harpsichord or a "speaking" cello – Charles Burney’s word to describe contemporary Italianate cello style.

They are little sonatas indeed but in name only. Some movements or the better parts of movements are unaccompanied, such as the Aria of XV and that speaking (vocalised) quality Burney noticed in Italy and found so characteristic is apparent in its sensitive realisation. Tartini’s quality of compositional compression is at its apex in the Aria from Sonata XVII, a work in total of no more than nine or so minutes. And yet what a heroically complex movement this is and how touched with intimate withdrawal it seems in this fine performance. The Furlana - for the trio - opens in amplitude and completes a very fine traversal. I enjoyed the humorous off-note joke of the Allegro assai of the multi-movement XIX Sonata though the greatest reserve of feeling is to be found in the unaccompanied Siciliana and in the charm and sheer delicacy of the penultimate Menuet. Fuller textures appear in such as the Allegretto of XII.

These are thoughtful and attractive performances with good documentation as well. Some aspects of the editorship may be conjectural and the conjunction of unaccompanied and the bass-added continuo may jar but Tartini’s less well-known sonatas will draw sympathetic listeners.

Jonathan Woolf

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