One wouldn't expect someone with the Italian family name of Lidarti
to bear the Christian names Christian Joseph. But this can be
easily explained: his father, Giovanni Damiano, had emigrated
to Austria and lived in Vienna, where Christian Joseph was born.
Whether he was aiming at making a career in music isn't quite
clear as he enrolled in philosophy and law at Vienna University.
He received lessons at the keyboard and the harp, but as a composer
was at first self-taught. At the instigation of his uncle, Giuseppe
Bonno, a pupil of Leonardo Leo, he started to study the theorists.
It was also Bonno who in 1751 sent him to Italy to study with
the then most fashionable Italian master, Niccolò Jommelli. He
had to wait six years after his arrival there before he was able
to do so. In the same year he received his first musical appointment,
as musician at the church of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri in Pisa.
In this city he was to stay for the rest of his life.
It seems that he was held in high esteem, as he had close contact with
'Padre' Martini, one of the most famous theorists and music
historians of his day, and the English journalist Charles Burney,
who paid him a visit. A large part of his musical output comprises
chamber music, mainly for strings, although he himself also
played the transverse flute - he was a sought-after teacher
on that instrument - keyboard instruments and the harp. It has
been suggested that he was especially skilled at the cello,
although his autobiography doesn't mention this. The reason
is that in many of his chamber works the cello has a remarkably
virtuosic part to play.
That is not the case in the string quartet recorded here. It is part
of a manuscript found in New York, which contains six quartets
which were published as sinfonias for strings and bass with
additional instruments ad libitum in Paris in 1768 as
his op. 2. In these quartets the two violins play the leading
role, developing a dialogue with the viola and cello reduced
to a supporting role. This quartet is a very fine work with
nice thematic material. It makes an interesting addition to
the literature for string quartet. I certainly would like to
hear the other quartets of this collection.
The worklist in New Grove doesn't mention any solo concertos, so I
am not able to say whether the three violin concertos are Lidarti's
only (extant) concertos. But Dinko Fabris's programme notes
seem to suggest these are indeed all there is: "We have
only a single source for Lidarti's three violin concertos, at
the Library of the Paganini Conservatoire in Genoa. Although
these concertos have been numbered 1 - 3, there is no evidence
that this was the composer's ordering". The Concerto in
A is scored for violin and strings, whereas the other two concertos
have additional wind instruments.
The concertos were written during a period in music history in which
a 'natural' style was preferred, away from all kinds of exaggeration.
It is not far-fetched to compare these works with the many violin
concertos of Giuseppe Tartini. Tartini's principle that music
should be written in "good taste according to nature"
is certainly reflected in Lidarti's concertos. While listening
to them I was regularly reminded of Tartini's violin concertos.
I have listened to these concertos with great satisfaction:
the thematic material is always interesting and well worked-out.
The 'naturalness' of music doesn't exclude virtuosity as these
concertos show. In this sense they are just like the Tartini
Francesco D'Orazio is totally convincing in these concertos. He seems
to feel completely at home in this repertoire and also completely
convinced of the quality of these works. His performances are
technically brilliant and very stylish. The cadenzas, probably
created by Francesco D'Orazio himself, are beautiful and quite
brilliant while avoiding exaggeration. The soloist and the ensemble
excel in expressing the lyricism which is such a feature of
the slow movements of Lidarti's concertos.
In short, this is a most enjoyable recording of music which deserves
the attention of today's interpreters and audiences. In the programme
notes a reference is made to Pietro Nardini, a contemporary of
Lidarti, who is also unjustly neglected. Both belong to a period
in Italian music history which is hardly explored. It is to be
hoped that this disc will encourage musicians and ensembles to
do something about that. I certainly wouldn't mind hearing D'Orazio
and Auser Musici in music by, for example, Nardini.
Johan van Veen