WORKS: Overture No. 1; Overture No. 2; Overture No. 3; Overture No. 4; Overture No. 6
PERFORMER: Musica Antiqua Köln/Reinhard Goebel
CATALOGUE NO: 439 937-2 DDD
A real discovery. On paper, the Italian virtuoso violinist composer Francesco Maria Veracini (1690-1768) appears to have been one of many such figures that graced the early eighteenth century. Yet, if we are to take these overtures, probably composed in 1716, as being entirely representative of his style, he certainly deserves far more recognition than hitherto.
Anecdotal evidence, some of which may well have been apocryphal, suggests that he was a larger-than-life personality, and the music performed here bears this out. Working within the confines of a limited set of tonalities (B flat major, F major, and in the final Overture, G minor), Veracini allows his musical imagination free rein, steadfastly avoiding the predictable. Each of the overtures follows an entirely individual sequence of movements, and in some cases, such as the Gavotte of No. 2, the extended working out of thematic material transcends the simple origins of the dance. Perhaps the most surprising and attractive music of all comes in the final overture, where the conventional three-movement format of the concerto is supplemented by a primitive Minuet in which all the orchestral forces play in unison. In this premiere recording of five out of the complete set of six overtures, Reinhard Goebel and his excellent Musica Antiqua Köln deliver breathtakingly vivid performances in which a no-holds-barred approach to tempo and articulation matches the extravagant conception of the music itself. Erik Levi