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Antonio BAZZINI (1818-1897)
La Ronde des Lutins; Scherzo-fantastique, Op.25 (1852) [6:05]
Violin Sonata Op.55 (1867) [23:40]
La Traviata ‘Fantasia brillante’ Op.50 [14:14]
Elegia Op.35 No.1 [7:10]
La Calma serenata, Op.34 No.3 [5:25]
Il Mulattiere, Op.35 No.3 [6:42]
Il Carrillon d’Arras, Op.36 [7:03]
Luca Fanfoni (violin)
Maria Semeraro (piano)
rec. 2014, BartokStudio, Bernareggio

Bazzini has retained a peripheral place in the violin repertoire, most obviously in the case of the oft-recorded La Ronde des Lutins - the piece about which Perlman was always mock-apologetic when he unveiled it as an encore. Well, it’s in this recital, too, occupying pole position in this all-Bazzini disc from the Italian duo of Luca Fanfoni and Maria Semeraro. The meat of the recital however – the salami in the sandwich – is the big Op.55 Sonata.

This has been dusted down by performers, mostly Italian, who have tried to project its expressive and extrovert qualities. It’s certainly no masterpiece but it can be made to sound more convincing than here, a reading that remains somewhat on the timid side. Things hold fire whereas in a reading that’s more committed, both in terms of tempi and tonal variety –which were the case when it was taped by Luigi Alberto Bianchi and Aldo Orvieto (Dynamic DM8018) - the work’s several charms were more obvious. Turn to the Dynamic pairing for a more ‘deciso’ approach to the opening movement and more flair elsewhere into the bargain. Their programme concentrated on the Opp. 46, 53 and 54 sets whilst Fanfoni and Semeraro prefer to pick and choose from Opp. 34-36, which certainly ensures variety.

The La Traviata fantasia is a quarter-of-an-hour affair cast in workmanlike, expected, nineteenth-century operatic-paraphrase fashion. It doesn’t draw any especially nuanced phrasing from Fanfoni and some of the playing could be more virtuosic, though it’s the case that it’s not an especially virtuoso-orientated piece. The Elegia is rather sweetly lyric and shows Bazzini’s gift for melody and knowing use of double-stops. La Calma serenata is an elegant opus, though not especially distinctive but Il Mulattiere is more interesting with its quotient of rustic drone and urgent folk calls; a character piece of some standing, in fact. Il Carillon d’Arras, Op.36 is the nearest we get in this recital to Paganininian evocations – the virtuosic sheen and harmonics attest to that at least – though there is also a hint or two of Sarasate in the deployment of the pizzicati; Bazzini must have been impressed by the younger man.

The booklet notes are sparse when it comes to the music, which will be a disappointment to those coming new to it. I’ve not mentioned the performance of La Ronde; to a degree suavely phrased, a bit metallic tonally, hints of awkwardness in some voicings, a few noises off the fingerboard, somewhat staid and lacking in zip. For all the good things here, that is really my lasting impression of Luca Fanfoni’s recital.

Jonathan Woolf



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