disc offers a confrontation between two of Italy's most virtuosic
violinists of the 18th century, Francesco Geminiani and Francesco
Maria Veracini. Both were pupils of the great Arcangelo Corelli,
and both had successful careers both in Italy and abroad.
But they had very different personalities, and there is quite
a strong difference in their compositions. And although they
were both pupils of Corelli they dealt with his heritage in
very different ways.
kept rather close to the example set by his teacher. He arranged
Corelli's Sonatas for violin and basso continuo op. 5 as concerti
grossi, which can be interpreted as the ultimate tribute to
the master. Veracini, on the other hand, pretended to be able
to 'improve' Corelli's sonatas, which can be used as further
evidence - if needed - of his proverbial arrogance. He also
believed that only his own music was able to show his brilliant
is indeed one of the main features of Veracini's compositions,
even though in later publications, like the 'Sonate Accademiche',
he went further than in his op. 1, which could be played either
on violin or on recorder. Even so, there are many eccentricities
and unexpected things in the two sonatas from his op. 1, which
are played here. There are frequent modulations in some movements
as well as sharp dissonances and chromaticism. The 'grave'
from the Sonata No. 8 is a good example. Other composers also
make use of those features for the sake of expressivity, but
in Veracini's case I am not so sure about that. The more I
hear from his works the more I get the impression the composer
didn't really care about writing expressive music. It seems
to me that all the twists and turns in his music don't make
much sense apart from giving the player - Veracini himself
- the opportunity to show off.
comparison Geminiani was a much more modest character who
went along with almost everyone. His sonatas are much more
'regular' and eschew an excess of unexpected turns. They also
show much more thematic coherence, and are much more rooted
in the rhetorical tradition of the baroque era. One could
perhaps argue that whereas Geminiani was one of the last representatives
of the 'baroque' style, Veracini was paving the way for a
new style of composing, characterised by sudden changes of
performances by Lyriarte are very impressive. Rüdiger Lotter
is very much aware of the difference between Geminiani and
Veracini and is able to demonstrate that in his interpretation.
His virtuosity in Veracini's sonatas is quite impressive,
and his performance of Geminiani's sonatas is just as good.
I particularly liked his playing of the slower movements in
Geminiani's sonatas, some of which contain fine lyricism,
like the first 'andante' of the Sonata No. 9.
decision to realise the basso continuo part with a harpsichord
only deserves praise. There is little evidence that the use
of a string instrument (cello or viola da gamba) to support
the keyboard was common practice in the 17th and 18th centuries
as it is today. Olga Watts gives excellent support, not only
harmonically but also in regard to rhythm and dynamics. Her
realisation sometimes sounds like a full-blooded concertato
by Jonathan Woolf