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

#alttext# performed by Riccardo Minasi, Musica Antiqua Roma DHM/Sony-2010 I've reviewed Veracini's music before; he's the late Baroque violinist who jumped out of a window, and thereafter, walked around with a limp. The great historical notes in this release by Minasi and Musica Antiqua Roma (which includes Luca Pianca of IGA fame) include the fact that Veracini was a well-traveled and likely well-lived man, another famous violin virtuoso. I'll be the first to say his music doesn't equal the richness of the story behind his life. What he left us is inconsistent. Some of it is occasional music of no special merit. Another works, as demonstrated here, such as these sonatas for violin and continuo, have sparkle in their unusual themes, or flights of virtuosic invention. Minasi released earlier on the Arts label a great recital of Biber's so-called Mystery Sonatas. Here with an even richer continuo ensemble he takes on his (native) Italian music with a recording that doesn't match the earlier release's superb sound quality. Since Minasi has performed as a member of IGA, it's worth comparing his tone and sound to Enrico Onofri. Between the two, Minasi is less convincing as an aesthete. As an example, take Veracini's academic sonata, the last on the disc: there's an almost rustic quality with Minasi's tone, and while he does achieve color with altering the tone color, his playing ultimately isn't as elegant as that of Mr. Onofri in his recitals of earlier Italian works. Yet, don't let elegance be the last word. Minasi is a strong player, and what he may lack at times with elegance, he makes up for with bravura, the Op. 1, no. 7 finale an excellent example. The bariolage required by Veracini's writing is technically brilliant, and Minasi is a confident, if not strident player. This movement in particular capitulates Veracini's power as an extrovert composer, and we can only imagine him as a performer. An earlier work on this recording, represented from a Viennese manuscript, offers a high range for the violin, and an odd choice of continuo: harp is used. The mixture of plucking continuo isn't without its critics. I don't question its authenticity, but sonically, a bowed plus plucked combination might have been a more satisfying choice, given the variety of players at hand. In all, this is a strong recital, one I admired quite a bit compared to an earlier release by John Holloway which I felt lacked drama and energy. Minasi and company are on strongest footing with Veracini's more extrovert fast movements. You won't always anticipate where Veracini is headed with his melodic lines, he sometimes surprises, but he gives his violin soloist ample opportunities to show off, or if not, at least the opportunity for creative invention. I anticipate further releases from Musica Antiqua, Roma!

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