WORKS: Recorder Sonatas (1816) Recorder Sonata No. 1; Recorder Sonata No. 2; Recorder Sonata No. 3; Recorder Sonata No. 4; Recorder Sonata No. 5; Recorder Sonata No. 6
PERFORMER: Gwyn Roberts (recorder) Tempesta di Mare
CATALOGUE NO: 107
Contemporaries of Italian Francesco Maria Veracini (1690-1768) revered him more as a violin player than a composer. He was also a recognised eccentric who sometimes slipped into bouts of madness. The best thing about this American recording of his six early sonatas (for violin or recorder) is that it captures these characteristics perfectly.
Veracini’s themes don’t generally germinate, but the sonatas are fuelled by schizophrenic mood swings, quirky chromaticisms and mini-motif manipulation. Recorder soloist Gwyn Roberts, director of early music at Pennsylvania University, obviously enjoys the unexpected and takes illuminating risks. She loves to stretch pauses to their limits, and to surprise the listener with thrilling returns. Her individual interpretations may not be to everyone’s taste, but they make compulsive listening.
The harpsichordist delights in spreading voluminous chords, the cellist is over-zealous occasionally, but the bassoonist constantly excellent. It’s a rewarding change to hear the archlute in such prominence, particularly in the Fifth Sonata, when it serves as the sole accompaniment. Kate Sherriff