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Locatelli: opus one concerti

Harmonia mundi is offering the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra's rendition of Locatelli's opus 1, led by Gottfried von der Goltz.

Included on the recording are 6 concerti grossi for strings. Seemingly this is "half" of the 12 works Locatelli first published. Instead of following a Venetian, Vivaldian-model, they seem to take more after a four- or five-movement Roman model, popularized by Corelli at the turn of the century. While the harmonic language references Corelli, the violin technique is more up-to-date with flourishes that extend what Corelli ever penned. Knowing Corelli was supposedly an avid improvisor, it is tough to say if Locatelli's ornamentation wasn't a good imitation. Contrapuntal movements aren't lost on Locatelli either, such as the vivace of the Christmas concerto, number 8. While Corelli is certainly referenced here, there are some references to other popular styles of the day. In the second concerto in C minor, Locatelli plays with stereophonic technique between two soloists in the violins. We can go far earlier than Corelli to find this, in the works by Gabrieli. The style is of course far more modern, especially in the areas of harmony. The three movement concerto "a cinque" in F has the opening "tempesta di mare" feeling of several Vivaldi concertos, only to ultimately fall short in execution. Locatelli was a forward-thinking, enterprising composer of the late Italian baroque. By his later concertos, he's extending his compositional ideas further than his peers, and by his opus 3, he's extending the reach of the violin's gamut. His style by the end mimics that of Dall'Abaco and sounds almost somewhat classical. But this well-performed collection by FBO is a glimpse into his start, where he evidently felt the requirement to build upon the shoulders of the giants. On paper, I'm not sure these concerti would have been too attractive to audiences of the time, but with the right soloists, they may have just been show pieces. There are a few places among the set where Locatelli sets off a few fireworks. Yet, it will take his pen a few more years to tap into the riches he'd be capable of with a lyric slow movement.

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