Leclair, Locatelli & Paganini, Tartini: Works

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COMPOSERS: Leclair,Locatelli & Paganini,Tartini
LABELS: ESS.A.Y
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: The Devil Made Me Do It!
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: Mela Tenenbaum (viola); Richard Kapp (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CD 1079
Two identical CDs from the same artists, the only point of divergence being that Mela Tenenbaum switches from violin to viola for The Devil Made Me Do It! Regrettably, her playing has neither the flair nor finesse to satisfy repeated listening, and this programme of allegedly diabolically inspired violin works isn’t without precedent anyway.

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Tartini’s Devil’s Trill Sonata, for example, forms the centrepiece of Aaron Rosand’s impeccably refined Biddulph collection The Romantic Baroque Violin. In this work, like most here, Tenenbaum’s saccharine vibrato and uneven rhythmic control, allied to a constant striving after dramatic effect for its own sake, reinvents the piece fraudulently and ineffectually. The same goes for the Leclair and Locatelli sonatas, which show an almost total disregard for Baroque style, with formal designs often swamped by mannerism and affectation.

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The Paganini work, first of a series of 18 Centone di sonate for violin and guitar, is played often enough with piano accompaniment to warrant inclusion here. The performances (especially the viola version) disappoint, though if you’re curious to hear these pieces in their intended form, try Moshe Hammer’s Naxos disc with Norbert Kraft. It’s hard to recommend Tenenbaum’s dubious devilry, though. Michael Jameson