Veracini: Dissertazioni Corelli Op 5, Vol 1 / Gugliemo, Coen
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For those familiar with Baroque violin works in 19th- or 20th-century arrangements, the idea of layers of accretions to the Urtext should not seem foreign. Baroque composers engaged in the practice of adapting and rewriting with even more energy, Bach himself reworking concertos by Vivaldi in a way that reminds listeners of the presence of both luminaries. Corelli?s concerti grossi, as well as his trio and solo sonatas, maintained their preeminence for decades, a position that makes it seem natural that composers would have adapted them (Geminiani had made from them concerti grossi). Francesco Maria Veracini, Tartini?s flamboyant contemporary, also applied his fancy to these works, resulting in a set of Dissertazioni , the first six of which, glossing the first six sonatas ( da chiesa ) of Corelli?s op. 5, have, through their release by Stradivarius, become available for listeners in performances by Federico Guglielmo and Andrea Coen. Guglielmo, writing his own booklet notes, suggests that the many omissions and mistakes in the manuscript in Bologna make it doubtful that it had ever served as the source for a performance. Be that as it may, Guglielmo and Coen now reveal the extent to which Veracini rendered Corelli?s arguments in his own unique language. Those familiar with Geminiani?s concerti grossi based on Corelli?s violin sonatas will find in Veracini?s rewritings a bolder departure harmonically, melodically, and technically, even though he preserves the same instrumentation. It?s no matter of mere ornaments (like those Geminiani provided for Corelli?s Ninth Sonata, outside the first set of six), no matter how characteristic. Only a glance at Corelli?s originals reveals at once the audacity with which Veracini provided new basses, modernized melodic contours, and stiffened technical requirements (while remaining, as did Corelli, in the first four positions). Every measure unmistakably bears one of the two composers? identities. And that?s as true of the étude-like perpetual motions as of the nobly sketched fugues and broadly singing adagios. Not for more than a century would a composer like Vieuxtemps so boldly reconceive and update one of Corelli?s Sonatas (the ?Folia?). If slow movements lose some of their directness and simplicity, and faster ones become more densely packed with violinistic and musical ideas, the imbalance of credits and debits will depend on the listener?s response to Veracini?s work as reflecting either the benevolence of an improver or the malevolence of a blasphemer.
Federico Guglielmo (on a 1710 Calcanius) tends to sound at times a bit tubby, occasionally ceding primacy to the harpsichord (which Coen?s performance as well as Veracini?s prepossessing basses render deserving of such attention) and at times a bit abrasive, although the timbres never impede Guglielmo?s élan in explicating the composer?s melodic and violinistic ideas. The recorded sound, capturing the duo close up, swathed in the reverberant sound of the Church of S Maria dei Servi, reveals all the detail. Guglielmo begins the finale of Dissertazione VI, at the bridge ( sul ponticello ), while Coen?s bass suggests drones characteristic of folk music. For the rest, Guglielmo indulges in few timbral experiments or asperities not related to the instrument?s timbral profile.
For those who revere the Master, for those who appreciate Veracini?s enthusiastic exploration of the frontiers of Baroque expressivity, as well as for aficionados of the period?s string literature, Guglielmo?s readings should come as a revelation and a gift. Others, less thoroughly grounded in Corelli?s bedrock, may have a less clear idea of what?s happening. Yet for the performances? gusto, the program should appeal to all types of listeners. (But beware: Dissertatione III begins with track 11?not 12; IV with track 16?not 17; V with track 21?not 22; and VI with track 26?not 27 and ends with track 30?not 31; I could find nothing missing in Dissertatione II to throw off the numbering.) Strongly recommended.
FANFARE: Robert Maxham
Catalog Number: STR33709
Composer: Francesco Maria Veracini
Performer: Andrea Coen, Federico Guglielmo