Schubert himself was an able violinist, whose idiomatic writing for the instrument is charmingly evident in his violin and piano sonatas. Moreover, enhanced by sympathetic recording, Biondi and Tverskaya here play a modern copy of a 1740 violin, and a c1820 Graf fortepiano that vividly evoke this music’s fragrant atmosphere. Arresting spontaneity invigorated by Biondi’s stylish extempore ornamentation reveals a potent mix of youthful vigour, ardent passion and delicate poignancy. An essential disc for all Schubertians.
One tends to associate the virtuoso violin repertoire with the 19th century, but in their own way these five sonatas, written between 1714 and 1743, offer an equally dazzling display of speed, facility, bow control and tonal variety. No wonder: the composers were among the foremost violin virtuosos of their time, as well as tireless innovators of technique and style; several even wrote treatises on violin playing. The earliest, and least familiar, is Michele Mascitti, a Neapolitan who moved to Paris when he was 30. His "Psyché," the program's only piece in a major key, is a divertissement in ten short "tableaux" on the theme of Cupid and Psyche, with the violin and continuo as the two protagonists. Refined and elegant, varied in texture, expression and character, it ranges from tender love songs to slow and fast dances, including a wild Badinage. Veracini's Sonata Op. 1 No. 1, a dance suite with an unusually active cello part, opens with a slow Overture and ends with a Giga del Postiglione, in which the violin imitates a posthorn's call. The other three sonatas are basically dramatic and melancholy, highly ornamented, full of double stops, running passages and cadenzas. Locatelli's is distinguished by a very elaborate keyboard part and a lot of spiky syncopation in the finale. Geminiani makes the violin sound quite luscious, almost romantic; his rhythms and phrases are startlingly irregular. He shares the exploration of the high register with Tartini, whose Sonata displays his incomparable melodic gift and trademark obsession with trills. The performances are beyond praise. Biondi, one of the deservedly most renowned baroque violinists, plays with enormous brilliance, expressiveness, and endlessly varied articulation and nuance; there is a sense of spontaneous exhilaration in his inventive, improvisatory ornamentation: he seems to be playing with the music and the violin. His partners, some manning several instruments, match him in every way.-Edith Eisler
This recording presents music by two Scarlattis: Alessandro (1660-1725), composer of innumerable vocal and chamber works, and his son Domenico (1685-1757), famous mostly for his several hundred keyboard sonatas. Alessandro is represented by six Concerti Grossi, a Sonata, and a Sinfonia; Domenico by three Sinfonias. All feature solo instruments: harp, recorder, and most prominently, violins and continuo cello.
With Antonio Caldara’s 'Morte e sepoltura di Christo', released on Glossa just after a new album devoted to Vivaldi’s late violin concertos, Fabio Biondi returns to the Italian oratorio, another of his specialities. The Venetians Caldara and Vivaldi may have been contemporaries but their career paths led them in different directions, and Caldara was to spend much time working in Mantua and Rome before securing the position of vice-Kapellmeister for the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI in Vienna.
This production of Bellini's famous masterpiece Norma was extraordinary in many aspects. Staged by Italian director and filmmaker Roberto Ando at the Teatro Regio in Parma, it gathered international stars like American soprano June Anderson and shooting star Daniela Barcellona as well as Russian bass lldar Abdrazakov. Audience and critics alike enthusiastically received the remarkable orchestral accompaniment. Fabio Biondi's transparent conducting and the authentic performance practice of Europa Galante illuminated the musical structure of Bellini's opera and provided a new perspective on early 19th century opera.
Fabio Biondi (born March 15, 1961) is an Italian violinist and conductor.
Born in Palermo, Sicily, Biondi began his international career at the age of 12 playing a concerto with the RAI Symphony Orchestra. When he was 16, he performed Bach's violin concertos at the Musikverein in Vienna. Since then, he has performed with a number of baroque ensembles including La Capella Reial, Musica Antiqua Wien, Seminario Musicale, La Chapelle Royale and Les Musiciens du Louvre. In 1989 Biondi founded Europa Galante, an Italian ensemble specializing in baroque music, that he directs.
One tends to associate the virtuoso violin repertoire with the 19th century, but in their own way these five sonatas, written between 1714 and 1743, offer an equally dazzling display of speed, facility, bow control and tonal variety. No wonder: the composers were among the foremost violin virtuosos of their time, as well as tireless innovators of technique and style; several even wrote treatises on violin playing. The earliest, and least familiar, is Michele Mascitti, a Neapolitan who moved to Paris when he was 30… –Edith Eisler
Alessandro Scarlatti was only 24 and had just begun his enormously successful operatic career when he set a libretto by that great Roman patron of the arts, Cardinal Pamphili, on the subject of repentance and divine grace. It was performed before a distinguished audience by a small group of leading singers and instrumentalists of the day in March 1685—the year of the birth of Alessandro's son Domenico (in fact, as a matter of interest, three days before the birth of J. S. Bach). This simple little morality (oratorio is too grandiose a term for it) shows Magdalen torn between youthful pleasures and repentance for hedonistic living: the subject is treated in a sequence of extremely brief arias (and a few duets) and recitatives, which add up to a rather bitty effect, all the more because of seemingly haphazard key-sequences. There is little evidence of the da capo aria form later to be so closely associated with Scarlatti: there are, however, several examples (as in the very first aria) of 'devise' openings.