musica Dei donum
Carlo TESSARINI: "Violin Sonatas"
Valerio Losito, violin;
Federico Del Sordo, harpsichord
rec: March 2013, Rieti, Chiesa di S. Domenico
Brilliant Classics - 94787 (© 2014) (53'05")
Cover & track-list
Allettamento da camera in G, op. 3,2 ;
Sonata in F, op. 1,2 ;
Sonata in C, op. 2,8 ;
Sonata in C, op. 3 (Witvogel),1 ;
Sonata in G, op. 3 (Witvogel),12 ;
Sonata in B, op. 16,3 
 Sonate a violino, violoncello o cembalo, op. 1 (BCT 1), 1729;
 XII Sonate per flauto traversie e basso continuo, op. 2 (BCT 32), c1729;
 XII Sonate a Violino e Violone, op. 3, (Witvogel) (BCT 36) c1736;
 Allettamenti da camera a violino solo, e violoncello, op. 3 (BCT 3), 1740?;
 Sonate a violino solo, violoncello o cembalo, op. 16, (BCT 20) c1753
Carlo Tessarini was one of several Italian violin virtuosos who made their appearance in several places across Europe. He was an almost exact contemporary of Pietro Antonio Locatelli (1695-1764) and there are quite some similarities between the two. Both worked in various places in Italy, then went abroad and lived for several years in the Netherlands. Locatelli died in Amsterdam, and that probably goes for Tessarini as well, although there is no evidence of that. The last sign of his existence dates from 15 December 1766 when he gave a concert at the Collegium Musicum in Arnhem, a town in the east of the Netherlands. Another similarity between the two composers is that they were also active as music publishers. Tessarini printed not only his own works but also those of other composers. To further complete the picture, both Locatelli and Tessarini gave private concerts of their own works, Locatelli in Amsterdam, Tessarini in London where he lived and worked between 1747 and 1750.
The fact that a considerable number of collections of sonatas from Tessarini's pen were printed by some of the main publishers of his time - mostly without his permission or even knowledge - bears witness to the popularity of his music. There is an interesting difference between Tessarini's own editions and the pirate publications. The former are less virtuosic than the latter. In particular the set of sonatas which the Amsterdam publisher Witvogel printed as op. 3 are technically demanding. They may have circulated in manuscript and it is quite possible that Tessarini didn't want to publish them because they were too complicated for the amateur market. The same could be the case with the sonatas op. 16 which were printed in Paris by Louis-Hector Hüe around 1753. By contrast, the sonatas op. 3 which Tessarini himself printed in 1740 in Urbino - the town where he worked for several periods during his career - are much more suited to amateurs.
There is also a shift in style. The sonatas op. 1 follow the pattern of the Corellian sonata da chiesa with its sequence of four movements. The same is the case with the sonatas op. 2 which were first printed for transverse flute and bc by Le Cène in Amsterdam, and then as pieces for flute, oboe or violin by John Walsh in London. These are again in four movements, but the role of counterpoint is reduced. In the other sonatas on this disc Tessarini rather follows the model of the Vivaldian solo concerto, with a sequence of three movements: fast - slow - fast. The sonatas in the Wittvogel op. 3 and the op. 16 are probably a reflection of the composer's own skills as a performer. One could conclude that he liked the form of a theme with variations, because the Sonata in G, op. 3 (Witvogel),12 and the Sonata in B, op. 16,3 end with a movement of this kind. The largo from the latter sonata is also notable as it includes a long cadenza, probably written out by the composer.
Although Tessarini's music has appeared on disc before he is anything but a household name. Considering the quality of his sonatas and the fact that they reflect the developments in the style of composing of the time this disc has to be warmly welcomed. Valerio Losito and Federico Del Sordo deliver very fine performances which convincingly bring out the characteristics and qualities of Tessarini's sonatas. The only regret is that the playing time is so short. Recently a study of Tessarini's life and works has been published which includes a catalogue of his oeuvre. Let us hope that this will encourage performers to delve into his oeuvre. It fully deserves exploration.
Johan van Veen (© 2015)