WORKS: Concerti Grossi
PERFORMER: Europa Galante/Fabio Biondi (violin)
CATALOGUE NO: 111 OPS 30-104 DDD
The Italian Ensemble Europa Galante has made several outstanding contributions to recorded Baroque repertoire over the past five years. Italy was slow to embrace the ethos of period instruments, but now, several groups having done so with conviction, lost time has been made up. In a new release, Europa Galante, under the spirited directorship of their founder and leader, Fabio Biondi, explores the music of Locatelli.
He was a younger contemporary of Vivaldi who extended violin technique to almost unimagined heights of virtuosity. That, however, is not so evident in the music on this disc, consisting of four concerti grossi and a touching funeral symphony for the wife of one of his patrons or, perhaps, even Locatelli’s own wife. It is not a symphony in the modern sense, but rather a concerto grosso whose opening gestures in the darkly coloured key of F minor command the listener’s attention with their sustained discords and suspensions over a menacing rhythmically dotted bass.
This piece, and the concerto subtitled ‘Arianna’s Lament’, make their first appearance on disc, but little else in an absorbingly interesting programme will be familiar to any but the most committed Locatellians. The vitality of the playing is infectious and pleasantly free from doctrinaire mannerism. Nicholas Anderson