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Pyrotechnia – Fire & Fury from 18th-Century Italy

The Illyria Consort/Bojan Čičić (violin) (Delphian)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
DCD34249_Cicic

Pyrotechnia – Fire & Fury from 18th-Century Italy
Concertos by Vivaldi, Tartini & Locatelli
The Illyria Consort/Bojan Čičić (violin)
Delphian DCD 34249   72:52 mins

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Vivaldi took the notion of what the virtuosic violin concerto might be to new heights; and it was he who cultivated the idea of the extended show-stopping cadenza. Taking this as his starting point, Bojan Čičič pits himself against four virtuoso concertos from the Italian golden age, and pairs two by the ‘Red Priest’ with one each by the 20-years-younger Tartini and Locatelli. Three are in the dazzlingly bright key of D, while Tartini ratchets up a tone to E major, so have ‘aural sunglasses’ at the ready to counteract the glare. Reconstructed by Olivier Fourés, Vivaldi’s concerto ‘per Signora Anna Maria’ is a premiere recording.

As leader of The Academy of Ancient Music (and director of the Illyria Consort), Čićić scarcely needs to prove his credentials through the medium of the virtuosic solo. The recording, instead, traces the impact of the capriccio-cadenza on the concerto form, and its evolution from shortish burst to the finale of Locatelli’s Op. 3 No. 12 (which, at 15 minutes, outlasts either of the Vivaldi concertos in their entirety – albeit with a lot of grandstanding gamely shouldered by the unflappable Čičič). In truth though, all three composers at times coast on compositional autopilot; and the ‘fire and fury’ of the disc’s title proves a hostage to fortune when, as in the first movement of Vivaldi’s Concerto RV205, there’s a sense of something being held back, the excitement contained. That said, the extravagantly ornamented Largo is delectably poised and ethereal, whilst Čičič makes characteristically light work of the scintillating capriccio repurposed from RV774.

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Paul Riley