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AVAILABILITY La Bottega Discantica

Concerti Italiani
Alberto CURCI (1886-1973)
Concerto Romantico Op.20 (1944) [16:17]
Giuseppe TARTINI (1692-1770)
Violin Concerto [15:03]
Giovanni Battista VIOTTI (1755-1824)
Violin Concerto No.22 in A minor (1803) [27:38]
Camillo SIVORI (1815-1894)
Capriccio No.5 from XII Studi-Capricci Op.25 [3:41]
Pietro LOCATELLI (1695-1764)
Capriccio No.18 from LíArte del Violino (1733) [3:06]
Federico FIORILLO (1753-1824)
Capriccio No.28 from the Thirty-Six Capricci Op.3 [2:57]
Fulvio Luciani (violin)
I Pomeriggi Musicali/Carlo de Martini
rec. Teatro Dal Verme di Milano, June 2006 Curci, Tartini and Viotti), Baroque Hall, SMC Ivrea, September 2006 (remainder)

There are two slightly odd things about this disc; one is the programme itself, which interpolates Curciís very romantic 1944 concerto into a programme that concentrates on essentially eighteenth century works. The other thing is actually more irritating than odd. For some reason you have to download the booklet notes; the booklet itself deals with purely biographical matters concerning the performers. I donít know the reason for this, because in none of the companyís other discs with which Iím familiar has this situation cropped up. Letís hope itís a one-off.

Mind you to start with the Curci and immediately work backwards chronologically is also an oddity in itself. Why not begin with the well-known Tartini, ďplaceĒ the Curci and finish off with some of the virtuoso Capriccios. Still, letís follow the line-up. Curci was born in Naples in 1886 and died in 1973. He studied the violin in Naples and then with Joachim in Berlin before returning to Italy. He wrote three concertos for his own instrument and the Op.20 is the first of these. He wrote pedagogic and didactic material on the violin as well, and seems to have devoted much of his adult life to translations (Flesch, Szigeti) and to teaching as well as composing. Clearly he left behind an important legacy in Italy.
The Op.20 is indeed Romantico Ė if youíd said 1888 and not 1944 Iíd have believed you. Its hero is clearly Bruch but there are hints of Paganinian lyricism as well, the occasional snippet of Brahmsian passagework and what I took to be a very light acquaintance with the Sibelius. The slow movement is a delightful aria and the finale is a sunny, bucolic one, full of passagework thickets for the soloist. Itís hardly surprising given Curciís background that even in the fastest and tightest corners everything sounds gratefully and gracefully written for the solo instrument.†
Given that Curci translated Szigeti into Italian Ė the notes donít specify what but I assume A Violinistís Notebook Ė itís apposite that we have a concerto that Szigeti played often and recorded; the famous Tartini. Here, as elsewhere, the soloist is Fulvio Luciani, a very capable and adaptable player.
Viottiís Concerto No.22 is one that many Old Timers had under their fingers. Kreisler played it often and Shumsky too. Itís the kind of work that, like Spohrís Eighth, has maintained only a tentative hold on the repertory. Naturally we wouldnít expect Luciani to possess the riper and more extrovert traits of a soloist such as the ones cited but he is a conscientious and tidy player. I found his vibrato rather too slow and one-dimensional in the slow movement but this is otherwise a pleasing reading. The orchestra by the way plays modern instruments.
To complete the Italian virtuoso theme Ė one that the disc seeks to run from Tartini to Curci Ė we have the three virtuosic Capriccios from Sivori (Paganiniís pupil), Locatelli and Fiorillo. There are slight intonational buckles in the Locatelli and the Fiorillo could be tidier.
A bit of an odd one this but I was pleased to hear the old fashioned Curci.
Jonathan Woolf




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