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CD Review

Concerto Veneziano

Giuliano Carmignola, violin
Venice Baroque Orchestra/Andrea Marcon
Deutsche Grammophon Archiv 474517-2 DDD 65:56
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With recordings for Sony Classical and now for Archiv, Giuliano Carmignola has established himself as one of today's most exciting violinists specializing in the Baroque repertoire. (Interestingly, as a young prize-winner in the 1970s, he did not pay special attention to this repertoire, and even today, he keeps music of the later 1700s and 1800s in his concert and recital repertoire.) Conductor Andrea Marcon has collaborated with Carmignola on numerous occasions. In contrast to the violinist, Marcon was destined to be a Baroque specialist. Today, in addition to conducting the Venice Baroque Orchestra, which he founded in 1998, he performs on the organ and harpsichord. (In fact, he is one of the continuo players on this recording.)

Archiv calls this disc Concerto veneziano ("Venetian concert"), but of these three composers, only Vivaldi was closely associated with this sinking city. There's no obvious linkage between these four violin concertos, apart from the considerable challenges that they pose for the soloist. Vivaldi's RV 583 is a work of Italianate pomp. Its length, and the wealth of ornamentation that Vivaldi wrote into the soloist's part suggests that he was trying to impress someone important. It certainly impresses us. RV 278 is even more epical, and here the pomp has been replaced by more intimate gestures, including an uncommon poignancy in the middle movement. Tartini and Locatelli were Vivaldi's juniors by more than a decade. Their violin concertos are stylistically similar to his while looking forward in time. Two slow movements to Tartini's D. 96 concerto have come to light, and both of them are presented here. Curiously, although the second attempt (in which the composer was inspired by a bit of anguished verse by Metastasio) seems to be the one Tartini preferred, it is given at the end of the concerto, and the peaceful original Adagio is played within the concerto proper. Locatelli's concerto, like Vivaldi's RV 583, is dressed to impress. The outer movements are sectionalized; each contains a highly ornamented Capriccio. The middle Largo, on the other hand, is Italianate simplicity at its finest.

This is a good disc from Carmignola and Marcon, although it is not quite as distinctive as some of their earlier efforts. There's plenty of energy and period instrument bite, and unlike many current Baroque musicians, there's a willingness to savor the middle movements that I like. The orchestra itself (ten violins, three violas, etc.) is of a healthy (but not anachronistic) size – another plus to this recording. The engineering also gives pleasure.

This disc isn't ground-breaking, but it's well worth knowing.

Copyright © 2005, Raymond Tuttle