UCCELLINI Works for Violin.
Helene Schmitt with
Marco Uccellini (1603-80) of Modena broke new ground in the development of
the virtuoso sonata for solo violin. Those sonate selected here from
his large output demonstrate his expansion of the then prevalent short form
of several sections amounting to some 60 bars. Several of Uccellini's are
7 to 10 minutes long. He tends to sequence small, slightly varying motifs;
in some of them there is a contrasted second part in triple time, with scale
passages and dance-like passages. He demands considerable virtuosity from
his soloists, but on the showing of this CD, less flamboyantly so than Biber
& Walther's sonatas, also reviewed this month.
The contrast between these two Christophorus CDs is fascinating. Helene
Schmitt is more delicate in her phrasing and nuances, less pointed and
extrovert than Thomas Pietsch. On first hearing I thought her playing tended
towards being a little dull, but heard again on different apparatus I felt
otherwise. Her playing is in a collaborative, chamber music style, and the
programme's particular strength is the varied instrumentation of the
continuo. Markus Markl plays a delicious little chamber organ of great
character, made to an old Italian model. He plays too a copy of a 1700 Gregori
harpsichord, intriguingly described as a 'false inner-outer' instrument,
whatever that means? Helene Schmitt is well supported also on baroque guitar
and theorbo, cello and the deeper toned violone.
Taken in smallish doses of twenty minutes or so this music will give great
pleasure. The recording and back up information are excellent and deserves
a high rating for collectors prepared to explore a fairly obscure composer
of the mid 17th century. But if you intend to buy one only, I would still
favour the Biber etc released in the same batch.
Peter Grahame Woolf