WORKS: 12 Sonatas, Op. 2
PERFORMER: Jed Wentz (flute); Musica ad Rhenum
CATALOGUE NO: 99099 DDD
Renowned as an extravagantly virtuosic violinist – one contemporary claimed ‘He plays with so much fury upon his fiddle… he must wear out some dozens of them in a year’ – Locatelli also composed some exquisite music for the flute. His Op. 2 sonatas, published in 1732, mix elements of the fashionable new galant style with more personal, and whimsical, experimentation, such as a concluding sonata in double canon. The later Op. 5 sonatas flow more smoothly, their galant elegance to the fore, yet retain characteristically bizarre, even bimetrical, flourishes.
Flautist Jed Wentz makes clear his adherence to a tradition of interpretative virtuosity. Arguing that current ‘authentic’ performance practices lack fire, he cites various Baroque authorities to justify his use of rubato, vibrato and numerous other ‘effects’ said to enhance expressivity. I have my doubts about the results. He does conjure up some rhapsodic moments – not least the 98-bar cadenza he inserts into Op. 2/6 – but his interventions often seem excessive: their cumulative effect is to undermine the music’s form and disrupt its flow. (This is less true of the graceful Op. 5.) Simon Preston’s L’Oiseau-Lyre recording of Op. 2, though less flamboyant, offers a more coherent and ultimately more satisfying account of this delightful music. Graham Lock