MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2023
Approaching 60,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


The Devil’s Trill
Giuseppe TARTINI (1692-1770)
Sonata in G minor, Op.1 No.4, ‘Il trillo del Diavolo’ [17:48]
Sonata in G minor, Op.1 No.10, ‘Didone abbandonata’ [15:03]
Francesco Maria VERACINI (1690-1768)
Sonata in A major, Op.1 No.7 [11:12]
Giuseppe TARTINI (1692-1770)
Largo from Sonata in E minor, Op.1 No.5 [3:13]
Sonata in A major, Op.1 No.13, ‘Pastorale’ [14:06]
Grave in d minor [4:12]
Palladians: Rodolfo Richter (violin); Susanne Heinrich (viola da gamba); Silas Standage (harpsichord); William Carter (archlute; baroque guitar)
rec. 6-8 Nvember, 2006, St. Andrews Church, Toddington, UK
LINN CKD292 [61:23]



Experience Classicsonline

On the day that there arrived a packet of CDs for review, a packet containing the present disc, I was reading my way through the often tedious pages of a volume published in London in 1778 (The Fashionable Tell-Tale) trying to find an anecdote about Milton which it was supposed to contain. I got distracted by a familiar story about Tartini, which I had just finished reading when the post arrived. I opened up the packet and found this disc staring me in the face. The coincidence is too neat - some might say disturbing! - for me to ignore it. This is what I had just been reading:

“Tartini, a celebrated musician, who was born at Pirano in Istria, being much inclined to the study of music in his early youth, dreamed one night that he had made a compact with the devil, who promised to be at his service on all occasions … during this vision … at last he imagined, that he presented the devil with his violin, in order to discover what kind of musician he was; when, to his great astonishment, he heard him play a solo so singularly beautiful, and which he executed with such superior taste and precision, that it surpassed all the music which he had ever heard or conceived in his life. So great was his surprise, and so exquisite was his delight, upon this occasion, that it deprived him of the power of breathing. He awoke with the violence of his sensation, and instantly seized his fiddle in hopes of expressing what he had just heard; but in vain: he, however, then composed a piece, which is, perhaps, the best of all his works: he called it ‘The Devil’s Sonata’, but it was so far inferior to what his sleep had produced, that he declared he would have broken his instrument, and abandoned music for ever, if he could have found any other means of subsistence”.

A student of comparative mythology might discuss the analogy with the legend of Faust; a cultural historian would see in the story a resemblance to such Romantic fictions as Coleridge’s account of the creation of ‘Kubla Khan’; a cynic might suggest that Tartini would, in later times, have made a good career in advertising or self-promotion. All three would agree, surely, that the story is a good one. And is the music good? Yes, and it is illuminated - or perhaps one might say more aptly, darkened - by knowledge of the story.

The fascinating music of the sonata has a kind of introversive galant quality in this interesting performance, a reading which resists any possible temptation to mere showiness. Tartini was, by all accounts, a famously quiet and secretive man, and such a flavour is imparted to this performance, simultaneously brooding and ominous, graceful and refined. Here, as has not always been the case with performances of this piece, the listener’s interest is primarily psychological and emotional, not technical. There is an intensity here – and elsewhere on the disc – which packs a considerable punch without ever being overstated. Indeed, this ‘trillo del Diavolo’ does sound like the reluctantly expressed and troubled feelings of an essentially reclusive man. Rodolfo Richter, playing a 1674 Guarneri, plays at the tipping point between self-communion and performance for others, and the continuo accompaniment is beautifully judged, economic and supportive. The opening larghetto is a particular delight, full of darkling elegance. The third movement (marked ‘Sogni del autore: Andante – Allegro assai – Il trillo del Diavolo’) relates most specifically to the famous anecdote and again both soloist and ensemble work are of the highest order, subtle, powerfully expressive in a kind of tight-lipped fashion. In the booklet notes, William Carter makes the claim that in the case of Tartini’s works the “virtuosity rises out of a desire to express rather than amaze” and writes of Tartini’s music having an “intense pictorial inward gaze”. That puts it very well – and the performances justify the nature of the claim.

The story of Dido has inspired many fine musical works – from the pens of Purcell, Berlioz, Cavalli, Clementi, Hasse and many others – and Tartini’s marvellous ‘Didone abbandonata’ deserves a place of honour in the roll call of such compositions. It can perhaps be thought of as an instrumental version of the baroque solo vocal lament, in a line of descent, that is, from pieces such as Monteverdi’s ‘Lamento d’Arianna’, Cavalli’s ‘Lamento di Cassandra’ from his opera La Didone, Luigi Rossi’s ‘Lamento di Zaida mora’ or Carissimi’s ‘Lamento della Regina’. The English listener will surely think of Purcell and the most famous aria from Dido and Aeneas. The three movements of Tartini’s ‘Didone abbandonata’, although they don’t have the benefit of verbal text, are on an expressive par with any of these vocal laments. It covers the gamut of relevant emotions, beginning with the complexities of memory, hope and fear in the opening ‘affetuoso’, the angry recognition of the truth of her abandonment in the central ‘presto’ and the terrible bleakness of the closing ‘allegro’. This is masterpiece which ought to be better known and this is a splendid performance which puts a wonderfully persuasive case for the piece.

The other works by Tartini included here are perhaps not quite so special as these two, but they are eminently worth hearing … and rehearing. Tartini is a searching and rewardingly complex composer whose music – as opposed to just his legend – deserves to be more widely familiar.

The Palladians – a new incarnation of the group we previously knew as the Palladian Ensemble – add to this selection of works by Tartini one of the sonatas of Francesco Maria Veracini. This is no mere ‘filler’, its presence serving a real purpose. Veracini made a considerable impact on the young Tartini when he first heard him play in the 1610s. Another part of the Tartini story - the ‘biography’ we have of Tartini often sounds as much like myth as history - has it that Tartini abandoned his wife so as to devote himself to improve his own technique on the instrument. The admiration was chiefly, one suspects, for Veracini’s instrumental ability, rather than for the music he wrote. To listen to ‘Il trillo del Diavolo’ and ‘Didone abbandonata’ alongside this sonata by Veracini is to realise to what different purposes virtuosity can be out. For all that Veracini was a notoriously unstable man, his music rarely plumbs the kind of psychological and expressive depths that are charted by Tartini. There is a greater polish, a shinier finish to much of Veracini’s work; one is dazzled more than one is moved. Of course, there are moods in which brilliance is just what one wants – and Veracini certainly provides that. There is more than just brilliance, of course, but not, generally speaking as much real emotional substance as there is in Tartini’s work.

There are, of course, other excellent interpretations of these pieces – such as Andrew Manze’s Tartini (on Harmonia Mundi), The Locatelli Trio’s Tartini (on Hyperion) and John Holloway’s Veracini (on ECM). But the Palladians stand up pretty well to any of these comparisons. If you have no recordings of ‘Il trillo del Diavolo’ and ‘Didone abbandonata’ these are amongst the most attractive candidates for purchase. They can also be warmly recommended to those who want to hear more than one intelligent and sensitive performance of this fascinating music. The recorded sound is as good as one now expects from Linn.

Glyn Pursglove


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing




Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.