Locatelli: L’arte del violino, Op. 3/1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Locatelli
LABELS: ESS.A.Y
WORKS: L’arte del violino, Op. 3/1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
PERFORMER: Mela Tenenbaum (violin); Pro Musica Prague, Pro Musica Kiev, Philharmonia Virtuosi/Richard Kapp
CATALOGUE NO: CD1043-44, 1068, 1069
Locatelli undoubtedly issued his L’Arte del violino in 1733 to advertise his pre-eminent gifts as a violin virtuoso. This remarkable work’s fusion of Corelli’s older compositional practices with newer features acquired from Vivaldi and his contemporaries shows the composer’s comprehensive mastery of style. But it is the disturbing virtuosity in the 24 Caprices – incorporated as extended cadenzas in the fast outer movements – that most dynamically confirms Locatelli’s reputation as ‘the earthquake’.

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Comparing these two new releases, Tenebaum’s version more closely matches Locatelli’s rebellious musical personality. Bonucci plays with impressive executant skill, sympathetically matched by the Santa Cecilia chamber orchestra. However, the relaxed speeds in the slow movements and relatively direct approach to the cadenzas lack the freshness of his more impetuous rival. Meanwhile, excessively bright recording gives Bonucci’s violin tone an unacceptably hard edge in the extreme high register at the instrument’s limit consistently exploited by this repertoire.

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By contrast, Tenebaum (who benefits from warmer recorded sound) generates more seismic activity with increased spontaneity, achieving a happier structural balance between formal strictness and extempore freedom. She continues to shine in the second half of the collection, her earth-shattering technical display and sweet-toned cantabile commending these pieces to a wide audience. Nicholas Rast