I love music.

I write about the music I like and have purchased for the benefit of better understanding it and sharing my preferences with others.

Veracini Sonatas

Several years ago, John Holloway and his colleagues released an ECM New Series recording of Francesco Maria Veracini's violin sonatas. Not a complete collection, mind you, but some select examples from the late-baroque Italian master's works. I say "master" because Veracini was a famous violinist in his day. He's most famous for limp. Supposedly, he once jumped out a window and thereafter, he suffered from his leg injury. He wrote in a modern style that borrowed from the Italian models of the day, but extended the technique for string player further. MAK and Goebel came out with Veracini earlier in the mid-1990s with a series of overtures. Holloway chose to visit Veracini after his time with Biber, and before exploring Leclair on disk. Among his most famous collection is the Sonate Accademiche which has been recorded by Elizabeth Wallfisch for Hyperion. Holloway gives us one of these op. 2 sonatas, alongside others: one from his op. 1 collection, another which can also be played on flute, and another from his collection of "Dissertazioni." So, there's Veracini this composer--one we have to decide if we like. I find him very warm at times, at others, he's just following a conventional plan. That's why interpretation is so important. It will make or kill some of his works. It was perhaps unfortunate that Holloway, Mortensen, and ter Linden opened with the G minor work that also appears on an album by Fabio Biondi (Italian Violin Sonatas). It's a rich work, for sure. Lots of opportunity for sass all around. Holloway sticks to his clean sound and wet acoustic, common from his earlier recordings. Yet, Biondi captures better the flair and fire hidden beneath the surface. His faster tempi, and wider dynamic nuances make a better companion to Veracini's sonata. In the second movement, for instance, it ends with this repeated motif on one note... it's angst, anger; at least, something passionate. Then the movement closes with the opening phrase. It's a dramatic shift, for sure. Holloway builds up the intensity, but his tempo is just a hair too slow. And then the answer that closes us up is left to be played as vanilla as could be, seemingly ignoring the previous outrage of emotion. Biondi is a far less serious-sounding violinist by comparison who makes a real show-stopper out of the work. Holloway, in movement 4, seems to have missed the entire dramatic potential of the work. He plays with great intonation, lots of baroque figurations, but... the passion we read about in Veracini's life is missing in the performance. Where I found Holloway's style more appreciated in his reading of some of Biber's works, this recording of works by Veracini falls short, in my estimation. You get variety; you get some very clean playing; you get some beautiful music, for sure. The reading of the D-major sonata based on a work by Corelli, for instance, is done quite well. But the different tracks begin to blur at times. My real complaint is that they miss some Italiante personality and range of emotion.

Sonates pour Violon et Basse Continue by Westhoff

Rameau, Scarlatti, Couperin et Bach