All this is well caught by the rich and detailed recording, as is Carmignola . . . there's a lot of character, together with a sweet and focused sound. He's very careful with vibrato and articulation, and his rubato bends the pulse without breaking it . . . The Locatelli . . . gives Carmignola an opportunity for fireworks . . . he's technically on top of everything, and the trumpet-like sound of his first entry in the Tartini is a real feat of tonal control . . .
Record Review /
BBC Music Magazine (London) / 01. April 2005
This disc is really something special . . . This disc stands out for imaginative repertoire selection and outstanding interpretation . . . Do yourself a favor and buy this magnificently played, perfectly recorded disc. It's an instant classic.
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ClassicsToday.com / 27. April 2005
Giuliano Carmignola is a thoroughly polished and consistently adventurous soloist in this demanding repertory. He dazzles us with his remarkable technical facility, expression and flexibility of interpretation l . . Andrea Marcon and the Venice Baroque Orchestra provide alert and sensitive period-instrument support, employing a colourful range of continuo instruments. The well-balanced recording is faithful and true and has plenty of appropriate ambience.
Record Review /
The Strad (Harrow, UK) / 01. May 2005
This is a good disc from Carmignola and Marcon . . . There¿s plenty of energy and period instrument bite, and unlike many current Baroque musicians, there¿s a willingness to savor the middle movements that I like . . .
Record Review /
Classical Net / 01. June 2005
. . . Carmignola is a terrific violinist whose technique and intonation are as near flawless as one has any right to expect. His tone, neither too fat nor too spare, is ravishing, drawn out in cantilenas llike an exquisitely spun silver thread that never shows the slightest sign of insecurity . . . So moving, so touching . . . this movement alone should be heard not only by every aspiring violinist, but also by every singer, who will learn much about control and phrasing from the playing . . . the playing is dazzling . . . lovely violin-playing will (and certainly should) attract widespread interest in a disc that is in many ways a wondrous achievement . . .
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Fanfare (Tenafly, NJ) / 01. July 2005
This is a lovely collection . . . These works are rendered with a passion and fire that does not abate . . . All of these works seem very fresh, perhaps because they get such good treatment from this orchestra. The rendition is spirited, graceful, and expressive.
Record Review /
American Record Guide / 01. July 2005
Giuliano Carmignola has been recording Vivaldi with the Venice Baroque Orchestra for some time, producing striking recordings of familiar masterpieces as well as spiky premieres of previously unrecorded works . . . [concerto RV 325]: the Orchestra and its soloist make a great deal of its rhythmic drive . . . Both virtuosically and rhetorically convincing, Carmignola deserves, and receives, top engineering billing . . . The depth and range of the recorded sound ranks among the most striking in any of Vivaldi's works. Just adjust your pacemaker accordingly. Urgently recommended.
Record Review /
Fanfare (Tenafly, NJ) / 01. November 2006
Barock boomt! Diese CD bringt endlich mal unbekanntes Repertoire aus der Epoche zu Beginn des 18. Jahrhunderts aus Italien, in der Venedig seinen architektonischen Zauber offenbar auch in die Musik übertrug. Das wenig bekannte Concerto in B-Dur von Vivaldi läßt Violinen-Virtuose Giuliano Carmignola hier schweben und glitzern wie eine Gondel in der Sonne. Das eingespielte »Dreamteam« mit dem Venice Baroque Orchestra und Andrea Marcon bettet Carmignolas Klang perfekt in einen harmonisch-instrumentalen Guß. Die Konzerte von Locatelli und Tartini bezaubern durch freskenhafte Virtuosität. Traumhaft schön das letzte Stück der CD, das "Largo andante" von Tartini.
The Baroque is booming! This CD at last presents unfamiliar repertoire from the period at the beginning of the 18th century in Italy when Venice¿s architectural magic was also being translated into music. The little-known Concerto in B flat major by Vivaldi here allows violin virtuoso Giuliano Carmignola to glitter and glide like a gondola in the sun. The experienced ¿dream team¿ of the Venice Baroque Orchestra and Andrea Marcon provide a perfectly harmonious instrumental cushion for Carmignola¿s tone. The concertos by Locatelli and Tartini are enchanting in their fresco-like virtuosity. And the last piece on the CD, Tartini¿s ¿Largo andante¿, is dreamily beautiful.
Record Review /
Tonart (Munich) / 01. February 2005
Virtuosität über alles . . oder fast alles, was passt in diesen Konzerten, vor allem, weil dieser Teufelsgeiger selbst mit den akrobatischsten Schlenkern noch so leicht und lustvoll spielt, als seien es harmloseste Liedchen. Virtuosität aber auch im weiteren Sinn, etwa für die ungemein atmosphärischen langsamen Sätze oder die Sinnlichkeit bei Tartini und dem späten Vivaldi, die sich auch auf das nicht minder virtuos begleitende Orchester erstreckt.
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Musik & Theater (Zurich) / 01. August 2005
Hier läuft Carmignola zur Höchstform auf und distanziert sich von allen anderen Barockgeigern durch seine geradezu selbstverständliche Vertrautheit mit dem Idiom Vivaldis und seine grenzenlos virtuose Umsetzung des Notentextes, die eigentlich weitaus mehr ist: ein lebendiger Hauch Vivaldis selbst . . . Das Venice Baroque Orchestra sprüht in dem sich verzweifelnd gebärdenden Kopfsatz nur so vor Musikalität, erfasst die Musik aber gleichzeitig emotional. Der Solist setzte dem mit seiner Interpretation der originalen Kadenz Vivaldis noch das Sahnehäubchen auf. Besser kann man heute keinen Vivaldi spielen . . . Carmignola fühlt sich in diesen außergewöhnlichen Virtuosenstücken [Locatelli, Tartini] ebenfalls hörbar zuhause . . .
Record Review /
Concerto (Köln) / 01. December 2005
Dass Carmignola sich im barocken Repertoire zu Hause fühlt, merkt man bereits in den ersten Takten. Die langsame Einleitung zu Vivaldis Konzert für Violine und Streicher (»in due cori«) RV 583 wird von Carmignola in all seiner gestenreichen barocken Klangrede ausgekostet. Das folgende »Allegro non molto« wechselt mit kantablen Solopassagen ab, in denen Carmignola seine Violine zart singen lässt, ehe der Schwung des Ritornells lockere, flüssige Abwechslung bietet. Der langsame Satz, in seiner sanglichen, langgezogenen Melodielinie eine Seltenheit im frühen 18. Jahrhundert, wird zart interpretiert, sowohl vom Solisten als auch vom hervorragend begleitenden Venice Baroque Orchestra. Richtig stürmisch wird der Anfang von Vivaldis e-Moll-Konzert RV 278 genommen, ehe sich im »Largo« Solovioline, Streicher und Continuo (hier im Vordergrund: eine wunderschön und geschmackvoll gezupfte Laute) umranken. All diese Virtuosität erscheint bei Giuliano Carmignola nicht als Selbstzweck, sondern eingebunden in ein Spiel mit Figuren und hochexpressiven Passagen. Man hat bei jeder Note den Eindruck, dass Carmignola die rhetorischen Figuren barocker Musiksprache auch dem heutigen Hörer vermitteln kann. In der Interpretation gibt es keine leere Virtuosität, die den Musiker ins Zentrum rückte, sondern nur die Ausdruckskraft der Musik. Dies gilt vor allem auch für die Konzerte von Locatelli und Tartini, in denen das virtuose Element gegenüber den Konzerten von Vivaldi deutlicher hervortritt. Dass es Carmignola und dem glänzend musizierenden Venice Baroque Orchestra dennoch gelingt, alle Ausdrucksqualitäten dieser großartigen Konzerte auszuloten, verdient hohes Lob. Gute Klangbalance. Was das Ensemble unter vielen auf historischen Instrumenten musizierenden Formationen unterscheidet, ist eine exzellente Klangbalance, gepaart mit einem natürlich atmenden Tempo. Hier wird nicht sportiv durch die Werke gehetzt, sondern jedes Detail mit beherztem Schwung hörbar gemacht. Auch die Continuo-Gruppe agiert sehr differenziert. Besonders weich geriet hier der transparente Klang des Begleitensembles; die Streicher zeichnen sich durch eine betont zarte Klanggebung aus. In diesem Umfeld wirkt Carmignolas Virtuosität mit allen technischen Kniffen wie Springbogen, Doppelgriffe etc. wie ein aufrührerisches Element. Dass diese Produktion so kurzweilig wirkt, liegt sicherlich zum einen an dem ausdrucksstarken Spiel des Solisten, zum anderen an der Auswahl der Werke. Die Gegenüberstellung dreier Komponisten, die sich mit dem Solokonzert auf solch hinreißend unterhaltsame Art auseinander setzten, ist vollauf gelungen.
Record Review /
Klassik.com / 10. February 2006
[Tartini] selbst strebte an, in seinem Geigenspiel den natürlichen Gesang der Stimme nachzuahmen. Das von Carmignola gespielte Violinkonzert in A-Dur (D 96) ist dafür ein perfektes Beispiel. Als Zugabe spielt er noch ein Largo Andante, das Tartini als Alternative zum Adagio komponierte und dieses noch in Ausdruckskraft und Kantabilität übertrifft. In diesem Werk fühlt Carmignola sich genauso zu Hause wie in den Konzerten von Vivaldi (RV 278, 583), die in ihrer Virtuosität die viel bekannteren Werke Vivaldis ¿ vor allem die während seines Lebens veröffentlichten Konzerte, z.B. opus 4 oder opus 8 ¿ weit übertreffen . . . das Capriccio . . . stellt einen weiteren Höhepunkt in dieser Aufnahme dar. Auch hier brilliert Carmignola mit seinem technisch souveränen, aber zugleich einfühlsamen Spiel. Und das Venice Baroque Orchestra stellt hier unter Beweis, dass es eines der besten Orchester der Barockszene ist.
Record Review /
Johan van Veen,
Toccata - Alte Musik Aktuell (Regensburg) / 01. July 2006
. . . un conjunto excelente, al que Andrea Marcon ha sabido dotar de una personalidad sonora propia y que cuenta, obviamente, con instrumentistas de gran calidad.
Record Review /
Ritmo (Madrid) / 01. September 2005
Claro en el sonido, brillante, incluso en ocasiones mordente, en los ataques, da a cada carácter y cada pasaje el color más oportuno, apoyado en una orquesta cuyas dificultades no son pocas, y que en todo momento responden y respaldan al solista con brillantez y eficacia . . . En fin, un magnífico disco tanto por el interés de su contenido . . . como por la maestría en la ejecución.
Record Review /
CD Compact (Barcelona) / 01. October 2005
Carmignola dimostra ancora una volta . . . le ottime capacità tecniche, il bel suono, l'estrema eleganza nel fraseggio . . .
Record Review /
Musica & Dischi (Milan) / 01. June 2005
Creativity and Fantasy
What Baroque violinist can claim that he once played on a national team? The answer is Giuliano Carmignola. He was a member of the Virtuosi di Roma, the legendary Italian chamber orchestra. "It was a great privilege, and like playing on a national soccer team!" Although that was 30 years ago, Carmignola hasn't forgotten the time. He played for the "Virtuosi" with sweet articulation and brilliance, as was customary in the '70s. "In those days we didn't know the treatises; we didn't play historically. We've come a long way," says Carmignola today. "You keep up with new findings - and try to come closer to the truth.
Carmignola's search for evidence has taken him to the Baroque. He has made an exacting study of style and form in its repertoire. "The sparse dynamic and agogic indications in Baroque concertos leave a lot of room for fantasy and creativity. You have to take this freedom in order to come close to the style of the period", the violinist asserts. Anyone who has heard Giuliano Carmignola play will know that he has reached his goal. Who else displays so much fantasy and creativity in Baroque violin concertos? There is one work that he has performed again and again in quite different interpretations - Vivaldi's Four Seasons. When one bemoans the fact that because of those four concertos much else by Vivaldi has fallen into oblivion, the violinist has a ready answer: "Now it's up to us to discover the lesser-known works!"
The violinist talks about significant concertos. For his debut recording as part of his new exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon, Carmignola is presenting - in addition to concertos by Giuseppe Tartini and Pietro Locatelli - two scarcely known Vivaldi violin concertos. "Maybe these concertos will become as famous as the Four Seasons", the artist says. "Locatelli, Tartini and Vivaldi are the three greatest violin virtuosos of the early 18th century." Only virtuosos? "Of course they're also composers. They gave life and form to the solo concerto. There were others, too - Veracini and Geminiani. But among the soloist-composers, these were the three greatest."
Carmignola quickly differentiates between them: "Tartini was a theorist. He was mathematical, also speculative, and perhaps believed that music rested on mathematical formulas. But there is also a great lyrical quality in his music, and the wealth of his embellishments is enormous. Locatelli, on the other hand, was first and foremost a great musician who exhausted the possibilities of the violin. He was a musician who made the instruments flourish and put his finger on their outward virtuosity. He also composed masterpieces, but he wasn't a genius like Tartini or Vivaldi. He didn't have their depth."
It is Vivaldi's works that inspire the virtuoso in Carmignola, and he speaks of the extraordinary introduction of the E minor concerto, which makes great technical demands on the soloist. "A violinist can really show his stuff there, and for that purpose there's also a wonderful passacaglia in his B flat major concerto!" Carmignola vigorously dismisses the claim that these works by Vivaldi are merely another two concertos among 300 similar ones. "Of the 300 concertos some have become known. But there are still about 50 extraordinary ones that have never been recorded. Concertos by the mature Vivaldi. This is great music waiting to be discovered. We could make many more wonderful CDs with these."
In the present recording Carmignola is collaborating with the conductor Andrea Marcon. Does he ever like to work without a conductor? "It also works without one, but Andrea and I inspire one another. We're connected by a deep friendship. It gives me joy to share this music with him." In a sense it is "naïve" playing - a concertare, or contest. The solo violin is spotlighted. With its warm, somewhat dusky tone, Carmignola's instrument takes on a truly creative role, able to determine the choice of dynamics, colours and effects. "This violin is perfect for my repertoire. I can achieve every possible nuance with it." Apart from that, the violin has a very full tone and is thus a perfect instrument for a Baroque soloist able to qualify the concept of truth so refreshingly.
Christian Berzins 12/2004
Here's an intriguing title for a collection of masterworks by three composers: a Venetian (Vivaldi); a native of Pirano - now Piran in Slovenia - whose sphere of influence was erudite Padua (Tartini); and a native of Bergamo who studied in Rome but who moved to Amsterdam as early as 1729 and settled there on a permanent basis (Locatelli). Yet their three common denominators - the violin, transcendent virtuosity and the solo concerto as a genre - all lead back to the same place, Venice in the first half of the 18th century. There is an astonishing affinity between the two younger composers, Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770) and Pietro Antonio Locatelli (1695-1764), and their older colleague, Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741), a relationship echoed in this quintessential summation of the virtuoso concerto.
If Vivaldi was famous for captivating his audience with his brilliant virtuosity, Locatelli was not to be outdone. An English aristocrat by the name of Thomas Dampier, who heard one of Locatelli's recitals in Amsterdam in 1741, expressed his amazement at the violinist's “fire" and “speed", adding that he played with such fury that he must have got through a dozen bows a year. Locatelli's manifesto as a virtuoso, his L'arte del violino, was published in the Netherlands in 1733 and comprised twelve concertos, each of which included two cadenzas of unprecedented, revolutionary length entitled Capriccii. Some of these works had already been performed in Venice in around 1727. By introducing all the excesses of his age into his musical language, Locatelli was following in the footsteps of Vivaldi, who had proposed the idea of the cadenza in around 1712.
Vivaldi's Concerto in due cori RV 583 and Locatelli's Concerto in G major op. 3 no. 9 appear to be contemporaneous and were no doubt both conceived for ceremonial occasions. In both, moreover, their composers' stylistic ambitions are evident. In Locatelli's case, it is Corelli's influence that is paramount, even if in his own works he adopts the tripartite model popularized by Vivaldi. From the opening Allegro's initial ritornello, two violins and a cello break away from the body of strings and form a kind of concertino that discourses on a calm Corellian theme. The soloist then enters with multiple stopping in the very highest register, immediately setting the tone of confrontation between virtuosic, forward-looking boldness and a respect for formal balance that suggests a nostalgia for the past.
Locatelli cultivates a taste for ambiguity, going out of his way to break down the clear-cut barrier between tutti and soli by introducing complex, difficult figures that are ornamented by the violinist and that complement the original comments of the orchestra and continuo. The virtuosity of the first Capriccio at the end of the Allegro is in stark contrast to the serenity of the Largo in E flat major, with its noble and emotionally charged theme. The final Allegro is thematically simple and reveals punctilious care in the elaboration of the accompaniment, while the figurations grow increasingly complex from solo to solo, leading to one of the most beautiful Capriccii in the whole of L'arte del violino - its superb polyphonic writing rivals the finest achievements of the German school of Pisendel and Bach.
Vivaldi's Concerto in B flat major RV 583 demands special tuning from the solo violin and has been worked out in elaborate detail, suggesting that it was written for some exceptional occasion. The nine introductory bars already reveal a startling use of contrast and dynamics, with a Largo e spiccato giving way to a Presto. The composer is evidently preparing the way for the entrance of a grand'uomo. In the Allegro non molto, radiantly lyrical ritornellos, in which the two orchestras play a game of question and answer, alternate with three episodes of intense cantabilità.
There follows an emotionally charged Andante in the form of a chaconne, its splendid theme, sun-drenched, broadly sweeping and no longer specifically Baroque, being among the most beautiful ever written by Vivaldi. It provides the starting point for a set of variations of palpable sensuality, with a long-breathed amplitude that owes its sense of rhythm to its insistent ostinato. Never in Vivaldi's works have virtuoso ornaments appeared as intimately integrated into a melodic texture which, with each succeeding variation, gains in expressive tension. In order to resolve this tension in the most elegant manner possible, Vivaldi chooses a 6/8 alla caccia metre for the final Allegro in which, following the exposition of a lively ritornello, the soloist launches into a veritable compendium of effects: sautillé bowing, détaché notes, legato, difficult arpeggios on all four strings, multiple stopping and passages in the instrument's highest register, culminating in the autograph cadenza, dense but very concise - like a malicious response to Locatelli.
By the early 1730s Tartini had found a distinctive voice of his own, speaking a language that combines the art of cantabile writing with instrumental virtuosity, while eschewing the departures of composers like Locatelli, who straddled the gulf between performance and tradition, and, above all, of Vivaldi, with his blithe blurring of the dividing line between theatricality and the concerto. Tartini's famously mordant dismissal of his older colleague is hard to forget: “A throat isn't the neck of a violin." His aim was to rediscover in violin playing the perfect, natural sound of the singing human voice. It was an ethical position. As a composer, Vivaldi was guided only by instinct and passion. He did not theorize; he composed.
Tartini would no doubt have been more than a little surprised to discover that in 1730, while he himself was still struggling to formulate his beliefs, his rival could have produced a concerto as overwhelmingly beautiful as the E minor Concerto RV 278. Its opening Allegro molto tells a story. The orchestra, as the herald of the drama, develops the principal narrative idea, after which the soloist enters, a hero both worthy and desperate. The anguished harmonies and unresolved trills speak of love. They begin on a note of confidentiality but then grow increasingly animated, impassioned phrases alternating with long notes heavy with expression. Then, in one solo after another, the chromaticisms acquire a more plaintive tone, ending in a concluding tutti in which the strings echo the soloist's pain. The Largo is one of Vivaldi's finest achievements. To a virtually uninterrupted dotted semiquaver (16th-note) rhythm, the harmonic colours change imperceptibly during ten inexorable bars, allowing a chiaroscuro scene to emerge. The soloist enters with a theme of ineffable beauty. The movement is simplicity itself, its structure perfectly balanced, a sort of Tartinian ideal, miraculously expressed, with the consolatory lieto fine of the final Allegro allowing a sense of hope to return in a more dreamy discourse at times loosely structured, at others much more tightly knit.
If Vivaldi's world is made up of images and passions, Tartini's draws its strength from words, poetry and an abstract ideal. Yet a handful of masterpieces transcend this simple model, and of these the Concerto in A major D 96 is a particularly fine example. Here the melodic invention is successful from start to finish. The main theme of the opening Allegro reveals a sophistication that already looks forward to the pre-Classical period, with its repeated notes, trills and ornaments leavening the orchestral textures. The following Adagio in A minor is a rêverie over an inexorable quaver (eighth-note) rhythm in which the roaming violin is invited to indulge in ornamental digressions before the elegant final Presto.
Although a model of balance, this concerto left Tartini feeling dissatisfied and so he replaced the serene Adagio with the most precious jewel that his tortured soul was ever to produce, a Largo andante in E major, a movement of great intensity in which the performer is asked to provide a gloss on lines by Metastasio: “A rivi, a fonti, a fiumi correte, amare lagrime, sin tanto che consumi l'acerbo mio dolor" (“In streams, in fountains and in rivers, run, bitter tears, until my harsh anguish is consumed"). As such, this movement demonstrates how two geniuses as remote as Tartini and Vivaldi could find common ground in their expression of extreme emotion.
(Translation: Stewart Spencer)