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Giuseppe TARTINI (1692-1770)
The Violin Concertos - Vol. 14
CD 1 [75:29]
Concerto in C Major, D 7 [14:27]
Concerto in D Major, D 28 [14:41]
Concerto in G Major, D 78 [15:11]
Concerto in D Major, D 34 [15:25]
Concerto in A Major, D 103 [15:35]
CD 2 [65:49]
Concerto in A Major, D 102 [08:02]
Concerto in F Major, D 68 [11:26]
Concerto in A Major, D 107 [11:08]
Concerto in D Major, D 33 [11:29]
Concerto in F Major, D 65 [11:54]
Concerto in D Major, D 31 [11:39]
L’Arte dell’Arco/Giovanni Guglielmo
rec. 24-26 June 2007, Studio Magister, Preganziol, Italy (CD1); 17-19 September 2006, Chiesa dei SS. Filippo e Giacomo, Italy (CD2). DDD
[75:29 + 65:49]


Experience Classicsonline

Reflecting on the days when recordings of Tartini were rare I still feel that any new release of his music is cause for celebration. Here we have from the Italian independent label Dynamic a two disc set of eleven violin concertos; eight of which are
claimed world premičre recordings.

L’Arte dell’Arco is a Padua-based period instrument chamber ensemble, founded in 1994 by baroque violinists Federico and Giovanni Guglielmo; who rotate directorship duties. This release forms part of their Dynamic project to record the complete violin concertos by Tartini. L'Arte dell'Arco varies its number of personnel depending on the demands of each programme. It ranges from a small string trio to a thirty member orchestra. On this release L'Arte dell'Arco are trimmed down to a ten and eleven piece chamber orchestra. On this project the players have studied Tartini’s original manuscripts; which still remain largely unpublished. Any missing sections in the manuscript scores have been completed by harpsichordist Nicola Reniero.

From my experience the early pioneering interpretations of baroque music in general, using period-instruments, were dictated primarily by the severe limitations of their instruments. Consequently, performance style often came across as technically mechanical, rather lacklustre, frequently insipid and even sterile. There is now a group of outstanding specialist period-instrument ensembles that have come to prominence on the late-baroque scene in the last dozen or so years. This generation of period-instrument ensembles have successfully improved their technical proficiency and this has in turn permitted a much freer and more fluent interpretative approach. L’Arte dell’Arco under Giovanni Guglielmo is one of the finest specialist period-instrument ensembles performing today.

Printed editions of Tartini’s scores from his lifetime are rare and it is extremely difficult accurately to determine the age of these undated manuscript scores. Relying principally on stylistic characteristics the Greek musicologist Minos Dounias believes that the eleven violin concertos featured here belong to the second period of Tartini’s compositional activity; from around 1735-50. Music writer Danilo Prefumo in the booklet writes: “These are perfectly balanced works, in which the composer from Pirano d’Istria, now in his full stylistic and instrumental maturity, gives free rein to his fantasy in a consolidated formal context, now enriched by nuances of the nascent style galant and by the sapid contributions of Milanese symphonic writing.”.

In these scores Tartini demonstrates that he has shrewdly succeeded in making his living close to the highly influential city of Venice without being overtly influenced by the approach of the school of Vivaldi and other Venetian violin/composers. Tartinis music often displays a deeper soul. Particularly successful are Tartinis beautiful slow movements. They frequently plumb real emotional depths and display a meditative and intense passion, yet still maintaining grace and dignity.

Most notably on the first disc I enjoyed the somewhat whimsical character of the Concerto in C Major, D 7 with the contrasting seriousness of the central Andante. The opening Allegro of the Concerto in D Major, D 28 has a distinctly martial quality, a pensive Largo and an elegant dance-like closing movement Allegro. Much admired, the Concerto in G Major, D 78 contains a showy opening Allegro and in the celebrated Largo Andante Se per me’ L'Arte dell'Arco conveys an absorbing serenity. Galant in style, the Concerto in D Major, D 34 delivers a stately opening. There is a meditative slow movement marked Grave and an imaginative closing movement Allegro. In the Concerto in A Major, D 103 the players establish a relaxing mood in the slow movement Grave with an airy interpretation of the Allegro assai.

The second disc also has many highlights including the fresh and lively opening Allegro assai in the Concerto in A Major, D 102. In the Concerto in F Major, D 68 the players communicate a meditative slow Andante and a delightful closing Presto. In the Concerto in A Major, D 107 the slow movement titled ‘Se per me sentite amore’ (If you feel love for me) is a moving love letter in music. I found the Allegro assai, finale to have an understated martial character perhaps fitting for a ceremonial occasion in court. In the Concerto in D Major, D 33 the Padua-based players seemingly relish a meditative and deeply emotional slow movement. A light and breezy Allegro concludes the score. In the Concerto in F Major, D 65 a dancing Allegro is followed by a highly ornamented slow movement marked Grave and an amusing Presto ends proceedings. The final score is the Concerto in D Major, D 31 with its rhythmic opening Allegro. L'Arte dell'Arco make the most of the melancholic quality of the Andante and there’s an appealingly breezy Allegro assai movement to conclude the score.

The Dynamic engineers have closely caught the Padua players a touch too much for my taste. I also found the sound rather dry and slightly metallic. Booklet essays provided by Danilo Prefumo and Nicola Reniero are interesting and informative. Although playing different Tartini violin concertos to those contained on this Dynamic set there are two superbly performed and recorded discs that I can strongly recommend from 2001 and 2003 respectively in Budapest, on Hungaroton HCD 32045 and HCD 32234. Using period-instruments baroque violinist László Paulik and the Orfeo Orchestra under the direction of György Vashegyi give landmark performances that made me see Tartini in a new light. The Hungaroton recordings provide an outstanding demonstration of how Tartini’s music can really delight and sparkle; displaying a wide range of tone colours. To be candid, although enjoyable, this Dynamic recording from L'Arte dell'Arco is not to the same elevated standard.

Michael Cookson 


Violin soloists on concertos:

Giovanni Guglielmo D 34; D 103; D 107; D 33; D 31

Federico Guglielmo D 28; D 78; D 102

Carlo Lazari D 7; D 28; D 68; D 65 

Claimed world premiere recordings:

D 7; D 103; D 102; D 68; D 107; D 33; D 65; D 31


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