Sonate Op. 1; Sonate Piccole
Evgeny Sviridov (violin), Davit Melkonyan (cello), Stanislav Gres (harpsichord)
Ricercar RIC 391 65:01 mins
The Paganini of the Baroque, Giuseppe Tartini composed and played with such fiendish virtuosity as to inspire legends of a swaggering swordsman-cum-violinist in league with Satan (who breathed fire into his music), and whose sinister left hand had six fingers, enabling him to play like the devil. No less colourful are Tartini’s violin sonatas which range from the impassioned Didona abandonata – inspired by the tragic Queen Dido of Carthage – where explosive outbursts interrupt yearning rhapsodies, to the faux-rustic Pastorale with its imitations of droning bagpipes, hurdy-gurdies and gypsy fiddlers. The G major and D major sonatas, based on the poetry of Tasso, have a quasi-operatic lyricism, while the F major work is a dazzling display of violin pyrotechnics, with its trills, rapid scales, multiple-stoppings, vertiginous leaps, contrasted legato and staccato bowings.
Evgeny Sviridov performs with the firebrand virtuosity of his Russian-school training and a fine-tuned awareness of Baroque style, thanks to his immersion in historically-informed performance practice (he’s concertmaster of the period ensemble Concerto Köln and won the prestigious Musica Antiqua Bruges competition in 2017). If you think the Baroque violin sounds wiry and thin, Sviridov’s silky, silvery tones will make you think again. Fingerwork and bowings are supple, light-weight and agile, producing effects by turns balletic, poetic, rhetorical and lyrical. Harpsichordist Stanislav Gres (playing copies of instruments by Ruckers and Mietke) and cellist Davit Melkonyan provide stylish support – though both sound a shade recessed in the boomy church acoustic.