Florentine violinist/composer Francesco Maria Veracini was originally
trained by his Uncle Agostino Veracini, himself a violinist.
By his early twenties he was already regarded as an exceptional
virtuoso. He moved to Venice, presumably to provide himself with
more opportunities. Veracini made his first trip to London in
1714, marking the beginning of his long years of travelling.
Though an esteemed virtuoso, Veracini wasn't an easy person to
get on with; Charles Burney described him as capo pazzo
madman) and others commented on his arrogance and eccentricity.
His rivalry with and jealousy of other virtuosi contributed to
problems during an extended stay in Dresden and in 1722 he threw
himself from a window, apparently in a fit of madness, and broke
He returned to Florence and composed sacred music and a number
of oratorios, now lost. At this period it seems that Locatelli
studied with Veracini. By 1733 he was on the move again, to London
again where he composed operas for the Opera of the Nobility
(the company which was rival to Handel's) and met with some success.
He made a number of return visits to London, the final in 1745.
He seems to have reappeared in Italy in the 1750s when he returned
to Florence where he remained until his death.
This disc, from L'Arte dell'Arco presents a selection of Veracini's
pieces, mixing two of his Overtures, two of his Sonatas and one
of his violin concertos. It is promised as volume 1 of a series
devoted to Veracini's Overtures and Concerti.
The six Overtures date from around 1716 and survive in a manuscript
in Venice. Both Overtures are attractive, lively pieces. The
Overture VI in G minor is in four movements and Overture II in
F major in six movements, with a structure similar to that of
a French overture. Both pieces include much brilliant woodwind
writing, but that in Overture VI is probably the most virtuosic.
The overtures are finely played by L'Arte dell'Arco, giving infectiously
The Sonata VI in A minor comes from an anthology of sonatas -
for violin or flute and basso continuo - which Veracini published
in Dresden in 1716 and dedicated to Friedrich August of Saxony.
It was these which attracted the Prince's attention and caused
Veracini to enter the Prince's service. The Sonata VI in A major
comes from a later anthology published in Dresden in 1721. These
pieces are smaller in scale than the overtures, but give violinist
Federico Guglielmo plenty of scope for demonstrating his fine
The centre-piece of the record is the Violin Concerto in A major,
taken from a collection of Concerti a Cinque
in Amsterdam in 1719. I must confess that I was slightly disappointed
in this piece. The orchestral writing is nowhere near as brilliant
as in the overtures and the orchestra is definitely subservient
to the violin, in fact the piece is rather closer in feel to
the sonatas than the two overtures. That said, Guglielmo brilliantly
brings to life the bravura solo writing. There is an element
of virtuoso note-spinning, but Guglielmo plays so elegantly that
he does convince.
Period performance group L'Arte dell'Arco were founded by Federico
Guglielmo in 1994 and specialise in the music of the Venetian
republic. On this disc they number some 18 players.
The booklet includes an informative note about Veracini and his
There seems to be a welcome revival of interest in the music
of the 18th
century Italian violin virtuosi. This
disc makes a strong case for Veracini's music. I look forward
to further volumes.