Francesco Maria VERACINI (1690-1768)
Violin Sonata Op.2 No. 12 (publ. 1744) [14:23]
Giuseppe TARTINI (1692-1770)
Violin Sonata ‘Il trillo del Diavolo’ [17:32]
Francesco Maria VERACINI
Violin Sonata Op. 2 No. 5 [15:02]
Giuseppe TARTINI
Pastorale Op. 1 No. 13 [10:59]
Fantasticus (Rie Kimura (baroque violin); Robert Smith (baroque cello); Guillermo Brachetta (harpsichord)
rec. 2013, Oude Kerk, Bunnik, Netherlands.
RESONUS RES10148 [57:58]

Veracini and Tartini are brought together in remarks by eighteenth-century historian Charles Burney, who acclaimed them in their time as “the greatest masters of their instrument that had ever appeared” in terms of both performance and composition. The character and interactions of these two musicians plus plenty of contemporary quotes on their musicianship and the background to these pieces is given fulsomely by Simon Heighes in his booklet notes for this release.

These are delightfully clean performances of some exemplary repertoire for violin. Veracini’s Op. 2 collection is full of substance and remarkable content, and the Twelfth and Fifth sonatas have plenty of representative counterpoint and some deliciously scrunchy dissonances. These works have a concerto-like equality between the parts, and there are good contributions from the cello as well as rich passages of double-stopping from the violin. My particular favourites are the opening Passagallo of Op. 2 No. 12 with its chromatic lines, and indeed this entire sonata is full of elaborate expressiveness and inspired contrasts, finishing up with a Ciaconna of which even Purcell would have been proud.

Tartini’s ‘Devil’s Trill’ Sonata is of course the best known work here, the anecdote about how the composer dreamt of hearing the Devil “play with consummate skill a sonata of such exquisite beauty as surpassed the boldest flight of my imagination … I tried to retain the sounds that I had heard, but it was in vain. The piece I then composed, the Devil’s Sonata, although the best I ever wrote, how far below the one I heard in my dream!” Rie Kimura’s performance is of course open to comparison with others but stands up well against some stiff competition, although many of the versions you will find are with piano as arranged by Fritz Kreisler and bear no relation. Nicola Benedetti is a little more juicy and animated than Kimura on her Italia album (review) while also creating a convincingly authentic sounding atmosphere with only ornamental touches of vibrato, and a lute added to give extra colour to the accompaniment.

The final Pastorale by Tartini is another programmatic piece, with special audience-pleasing effects such as the chase of the hunt, rustic fiddling, drones and energetic dance rhythms all played with gusto on this recording, which is detailed and bright.

Fantasicus is an ensemble which already has some acclaimed recordings under its belt on the Resonus label, and is doing well on the international early music festival and concert circuit. Keep an eye out for them, as they are hot as loaves straight from your local forno a legna.

Dominy Clements
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