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"Venezia 1700"

Thibault Noally, violin
Les Accents

rec: Sept 29 - Oct 2, 2015, Paris, Eglise Bon Secours
Aparté - AP128 (© 2015) (68'38")
Liner-notes: E/F
Cover, track-list & booklet

Evaristo Felice DALL'ABACO (1675-1742): Sonata for violin and bc in g minor, op. 4,12 [5]; Tomaso ALBINONI (1671-1751): Sonata for violin and bc in g minor, op. 4,5 [3]; Francesco Antonio BONPORTI (1672-1749): Invenzione for violin and bc in c minor, op. 10,6 [4]; Antonio CALDARA (1670-1736): Chiaccona for 2 violins and bc in B flat, op. 2,12a [1]; Sonata for 2 violins and bc in c minor, op. 2,7a[1]; Giuseppe TORELLI (1658-1709): Sonata for violin and bc in e minor (GieT 60); Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741): Sonata for violin and bc in B flat (RV 759); Sonata for 2 violins and bc in d minor, op. 1,12 'La Follia' (RV 63)a [2]

Sources: [1] Antonio Caldara, Suonate da camera, op. 2, 1699; [2] Antonio Vivaldi, Suonate da camera a 3, op. 1, 1705; [3] Tomaso Albinoni, Sonate da chiesa, [op. 4], c1709; [4] Francesco Antonio Bonporti, Invenzioni da camera, op. 10, 1712; [5] Evaristo Felice dall'Abaco, Sonate da camera, op. 4, 1716

Thibault Noally, Claire Sottoviaa, violin; Elisa Joglar, cello; Romain Falik, theorbo; Mathieu Dupouy, harpsichord

With the new style which was born in Italy around 1600 two instruments emancipated to a solo role and were given virtuosic parts to play: the cornett and the violin. Whereas the former disappeared at the end of the 17th century, the violin began to dominate the music scene. It has held its prominent role until our time. One of the main forms of violin music was the sonata, and the centre of composing violin sonatas was Venice. Olivier Fourès, in his liner-notes to the Aparté disc, lists an impressive number of composers who contributed to the genre. The programme which Thibault Noally recorded, focuses on compositions from around 1700, as the title indicates.

The disc opens with the earliest piece, and also a world premiere. Giuseppe Torelli is mainly known for his role in the development of the concerto grosso and the solo concerto as well as a productive composer of music for trumpet and strings. For most of his life he worked in Bologna, but as he was born in Verona, which at the time was part of the Venetian republic, he is included here with a Sonata in e minor. This is probably one of the relatively few works for violin from his pen, although he was educated as a violinist and worked in this capacity for some time in Verona Cathedral. It has come down to us in a copy (preserved in Dresden) in the hand of Johann Georg Pisendel, the German violin virtuoso who for many years was the leader of the Dresden court chapel. It is in two movements, each of which consists of a number of contrasting sections.

One of the main composers of music for the violin was Tomaso Albinoni, one of several composers who called themselves dilettanti, as they - because of their aristocratic birth - didn't need to write music for a living. Today his violin sonatas receive less attention than, for instance, those by Vivaldi. "In the past, the undemonstrative nature of Albinoni's musical personality has puzzled some commentators. (...) Today, the subtle elegance and lack of exaggeration in Albinoni's music comes across, rather, as a positive feature essential to his musical personality". Thus Michael Talbot in his liner-notes to a recording of violin sonatas by Albinoni. The well-balanced character of Albinoni's sonatas is not at the expense of expression or even passion. The Sonata in g minor, op. 4,5 testifies to that. The slow movements are certainly not devoid of expression, and the closing presto is very virtuosic.

Another dilettante was Francesco Antonio Bonporti, who made a career in the church. While studying in Rome he seems to have received violin lessons from Corelli. According to Fourès, "by and large his compositions remain true to the Venetian spirit in their caesura, their popular dance motifs and their recitatives." This must have been the reason to include him here, because he never worked in Venice. His Sonata in c minor is from his Invenzioni op. 10, which was published in Venice in 1712. Four of these were transcribed for harpsichord by Johann Sebastian Bach, and Francesco Maria Veracini had this set of ten sonatas in his baggage, when he gave public concerts in Germany in 1715. The 'recitative' to which Fourès refers appears here in the opening movement, called lamentevole. The three ensuing movements have the titles of balletto, aria and fantasia.

Like Torelli Evaristo Felice dall'Abaco was from Verona and like Albinoni he was from the upper echelons of society. He spent most of his life at the court in Munich where he worked as a cellist. He had been educated at this instrument as well as the violin. Two collections of twelve sonatas each for violin and bc were printed in Amsterdam around 1708 and in 1716 respectively. The Sonata in g minor is the last from the latter edition, his Op. 4. He opens with a largo with dotted rhythms as was common in French overtures. The second movement calls for the technique of spiccato; at the time this indicated detached or separated as opposed to legato. The third movement is a passagaglio, one of many examples in Italian music of a piece based on a basso ostinato.

Such a piece often concluded a set of sonatas. That is also the case with the Op. 2 by Antonio Caldara. Although he has become famous as vice-Kapellmeister at the imperial court in Vienna (from 1716 until his death), he was educated as a cellist, calling himself musico di violoncello. But he was also the first composer from Venice who published trio sonatas. His Op. 1 was printed in 1693, followed six years later by his Op. 2. His sonatas are modelled after the Corellian sonata da camera. They are in four movements: a preludio, followed by three movements with the title of a dance.

Antonio Vivaldi closed his set of twelve trio sonatas op. 1 also with a piece based on an ostinato, the Follia, whose origin is a dance from Portugal. Here it is not so much a bass pattern, but it is used as a melodic pattern for increasingly virtuosic variations. Otherwise Vivaldi did not pay much attention to the form of the trio sonata. He rather focused on the form of the solo sonata, probably because it gave more opportunity for virtuosic fireworks than the trio sonata, which was mainly intended for amateurs. The Sonata in B flat (RV 759) is an example of such a sonata. Like Caldara Vivaldi follows the Corellian sonata da camera model.

This is a very fine recital which sheds light on repertoire which is only partially explored. Vivaldi and Albinoni are household names and Caldara is almost exclusively known for his vocal music. Torelli, dall'Abaco and Bonporti are all composers who deserve more attention, as does Albinoni's output for the violin. Thibault Noally is a high-calibre performer who delivers technically assured performances and plays the sonatas with the bravado they need. Only then their qualities come to the fore. His colleagues are on the same wavelength. Lovers of the baroque violin should not miss this recital.

Johan van Veen (© 2017)

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