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Concerto Italiano
(c.1700 - 1764)
Violin Concerto in C major (1745) [19.45]
Michele STRATICO (1728 - after 1782)
Violin Concerto in G minor [20.30]
Pietro NARDINI (1722 - 1793)
Violin Concerto in G major (1750) [16.35]
Antonio LOLLI (1725 - 1802)
Violin Concerto in C major, op IIa, No. 2 (1764) [24.19]
Giuliano Carmignola (violin)
Venice Baroque Orchestra/Andrea Marcon
rec. March 2009, Gustav-Mahler-Saal, Kulturzentrum Grand Hotel, Dobbiaco/Toblach
ARCHIV 477 6606 [81.40] 

Experience Classicsonline

The violin concertos on this disc all exist in the penumbra between the baroque and classical periods. Works from this time are currently being re-discovered, witness Philippe Jaroussky’s disc of arias by J.C. Bach. Here we have concertos by four 18th century Italians whose names probably mean little to most listeners. Whilst Vivaldi is famous and his contemporaries, Tartini and Locatelli well known, the subsequent generations are less so. But their music is no less dazzling. These four were violinist-composers, travelling Europe and astounding their contemporaries with the brilliance of their violin playing.

Inevitably the shadow of Vivaldi looms over all this music. Though the four concertos seem to have been arranged to take us on a journey from Dall’Oglio’s Concerto in C major where the influence of Vivaldi is keen to Lolli’s Concerto in C major where we are not far from the galant style music of J.C. Bach and teenage Mozart.

Domenico Dall’Oglio was born in Venice and may have studied with Vivaldi; at least his father worked alongside Vivaldi at the Pieta. He seems have spent most of his time in St. Petersburg where he wrote his concerto in 1745. Inevitably, perhaps, the spirit of Vivaldi looms large, not only in the rustic opening movement but in the beautiful slow middle movement. This is the only concerto on the disc where the composer’s own cadenzas are played. The other cadenzas are by the soloists Giuliano Carmignola or by Olivier Foures who discovered the Dall’Oglio, Stratico and Nardini concertos in manuscript at the Music Library of the University of California in Berkeley.

Michele Stratico seems to have composed around 156 violin sonatas and 61 violin concertos. He belonged to a group of composers associated with Tartini in Padua. In this concerto in G minor, Stratico’s writing reflects the tuneful melodic style of the older composer. Again we have a hauntingly beautiful slow middle movement, marked Grave.

Pietro Nardini was another of Tartini’s pupils, moving to Padua at the age of 12 to study with him before going on to become an itinerant virtuoso. He worked mainly in Germany and Italy, at the courts in Stuttgart, Braunschweig and Florence, where he died. Leopold Mozart commented of him that ‘the beauty, purity and evenness of his tone and his cantabile cannot be surpassed’. His G major concerto dates from around 1750. It has a relatively abbreviated slow movement, which is surrounded by a pair of longer outer movements requiring quite a degree of virtuosity. In tone we have started to leave Vivaldi and Tartini behind.

Antonio Lolli’s C major concerto was published in Paris in 1764 and dedicated to the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, a famous violin virtuoso. Here Vivaldi is no longer a, presence; Lolli’s galant style features accompaniments which approach early Mozart combined with fearsomely virtuoso solo violin writing contrasted with substantial ritornello sections. We are closer to the symphonic form in the violin concerto and there are curious pre-echos of Paganini. Lolli’s career took him to Stuttgart and St. Petersburg, as well as meeting the Mozarts in Italy and conducting a musical duel with Dittersdorf.

The soloist on all four of these is Giuliano Carmignola who plays the virtuoso violin parts in an impressively fearsome manner. Carmignola deals with the difficult, bravura violin writing with apparent ease but makes the music the key to his performance rather than virtuosity as an end in itself. You come away marvelling both at the player and at the music, Carmignola does not use fireworks purely for their own sake. Carmignola plays the 1732 “Baillot” Stradivarus. My only real complaint is that in some movements he is rather closely recorded and you can hear him breathing heavily as he plays.

The CD booklet includes an informative article on the concertos and their composers by Michael Horst, but fails to include any background information on the performers bar some brooding photos of Carmignola.

Carmignola is finely supported by the Venice Baroque Orchestra under the lively direction of Andrea Marcon. The ensemble accompanies Carmignola in a crisp and lively fashion, and when given the opportunity contribute some fine playing in the various ritornellos.

You might never have heard of any of these composers but the musical quality of Carmignola’s playing makes for strong advocacy. Buy it.

Robert Hugill



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