Previously issued as
Hyperion CDA67021/2, this performance
of the sonatas which constituted Locatelli’s
final publication well deserves reissue
and is thoroughly recommendable, especially
at the two-for-one price of Hyperion
Locatelli was not startlingly
innovative as a composer. Typically
he produces variations on existing patterns
rather than new ones. Here the patterns
include elements from both the sonata
da camera and the sonata da chiesa
and both solo sonatas and trio sonatas.
Indeed, Op. 8 has a slightly odd, miscellaneous
feel about it. Most baroque collections
contain either six or twelve sonatas;
Locatelli’s contains ten. Most baroque
collections are made up exclusively
of solo sonatas or of trio sonatas;
Locatelli’s includes both – six solo
sonatas and four trio sonatas.
All the solo sonatas
begin with a slow movement, followed
by a quicker movement. In some cases
there is only a third movement (quick);
in some cases there are two more movements
(both quick, save in No.5, where the
overall sequence is largo – allegro
– andante – allegro. Contemporaries
praised Locatelli for – amongst other
things – the sweetness with which he
played cantabile movements or passages.
Elizabeth Wallfisch brings a real sweetness
to her playing of the slow movements,
without ever being saccharine. There
is grace and dignity in her playing
of the opening adagios of Nos.
2 and 6, some sinuous lines in the largo
which opens No.1 and some attractive
lyricism in the cantabile first
movement of No.4. In complementary fashion,
she brings plenty of energy and dynamism
to the second movement allegros
– which are often technically quite
demanding, calling for plenty of double-stopping.
The allegro which forms the second
of No.3’s four movements is carried
off with considerable panache. One of
the most distinctive movements – and
much the longest movement in the whole
set, at over ten minutes, is the minuet
and eight variations which closes No.6.
This is virtuoso stuff – with surprising
leaps across the strings, sequences
of extremely rapid note values, complex
ornament and much more – and Wallfisch
carries it all off convincingly.
Throughout the playing
of Nicholson and Tunnicliffe provides
persuasively idiomatic support, varied
without ever being over-coloured.
In the trio sonatas
– a form which seems not to have held
any great fascination for Locatelli
– there is less that is really striking
or memorable, save perhaps in the closing
allegros where there is some
lively imitative writing. The third
movement of No.9 marked grave – contains
some sombrely beautiful music. The final
sonata, No.10, elevates the cello to
the role of the second voice in the
trio, producing some unexpected sonorities.
The opening cantabile is elegantly
voiced and the two quicker movements
are imaginative and witty.
Op. 8 is not, perhaps,
the very best of Locatelli, but it contains
some music which any admirer of baroque
chamber music will surely want to have
in his or her collection; this thoroughly
enjoyable set can be warmly recommended
as a way of putting it there.