Veracini: Sonate accademiche, Op. 2/7, 8, 9 & 12; Capriccio in G minor

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COMPOSERS: Veracini
LABELS: Opus111
WORKS: Sonate accademiche, Op. 2/7, 8, 9 & 12; Capriccio in G minor
PERFORMER: Fabio Biondi (violin), Maurizio Naddeo (cello), Rinaldo Alessandrini (harpsichord), Pascal Monteilhet (theorbo)
CATALOGUE NO: OPS 30-138 DDD
Survivor of both a shipwreck and a suicidal leap from an upstairs window (the result of ‘excessive musical and alchemical studies’), Veracini has now survived 200 years of neglect to boot and is reclaiming his place in the pantheon of Baroque masters. Hailed by contemporaries as one of the greatest violin virtuosi of the age (he lived from 1690 to 1768), he was also a composer of repute. His Op. 2, the 12 Sonate accademiche of 1744, is arguably his masterpiece. A compendium of violin techniques (notably the bowing styles that were his speciality), the sonatas are also a form of autobiography, drawing on the musical cultures of the three cities where he spent much of his career: Florence, his birthplace, London and Dresden.

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The Locatelli Trio’s set – the premiere recording of the complete Sonate accademiche – makes clear Veracini’s striking originality, although the musicians do not always sound comfortable with it. Violinist Elizabeth Wallfisch’s tempi can seem hurried, her phrasing brusque, in comparison to the elegantly vivacious Fabio Biondi on Opus 111, whose expansive approach better suits the music’s inherent flamboyance. Wallfisch’s terser style has its moments – particularly in Sonata 12’s magnificent Ciaccone – but the Biondi disc evinces a joie de vivre I find irresistible. Graham Lock