When considering the first set of compositions designed to truly extend and test the technical limits of the violin, most would first consider the 24 Caprices of Paganini. However, more than a century before Paganini was even thought of, Italian composer Pietro Locatelli was pushing the violin to its limits with his four concertos of Opus 3, subtitled the "Art of the Violin."
Italian violinist Guiliano Carmignola has a crisp, sharp style that can do wonderful things in High Baroque repertory. In Classical-period music he is again distinctive, but your mileage may vary. This release harks back to the middle days of historically informed playing, when Baroque groups first began to explore the Classical era (and music beyond). There are no graceful, gentle lines here, no warm, muted colors of mythological figures frolicking in summer sunshine.
Recording after recording, Giuliano Carmignola, Andrea Marcon and the Venice Baroque Orchestra have proven themselves as a winning combination. After previously triumphing in the music of Vivaldi, Carmignola discovers the almost completely forgotten repertoire of the Italian violin concerto, bridging the gap between the Baroque and Classical styles in the mid-18th century. During this time period, violin virtuosi would travel across Europe giving concerts to great acclaim. It is their music that Carmignola performs.
If this is the future of Mozart performance practice, the future is secure. The combination of period instrument violinist Giuliano Carmignola and modern instrument conductor Claudio Abbado leading the youthful period instrument Orchestra Mozart produces something new under the sun: a hybrid of both approaches that takes the best from both and creates something fresh and shining. Carmignola, the leader of Venice's Teatro La Fenice and one of Italy's best period violinists, has a focused tone, a lively sense of rhythm, and a wonderful feeling for line and color.
This disc is really something special. Collectors are so spoiled for choice in the baroque repertoire at present, particularly on period instruments, but even in a glutted market this disc stands out for imaginative repertoire selection and outstanding interpretation. Its particularly gratifying, in these days of complete editions of everything, to see a discerning artist like Giuliano Carmignola choose four remarkably diverse works by three different composers, and simply play the living daylights out of them. The result roundly disproves the notion that Italian baroque violin concertos all sound the same, a point made even more forcefully by imaginative continuo work (on harpsichord, lute, and organ) by the Venice Baroque Orchestra that helps to emphasize each pieces individual character. The two Vivaldi concertos, for example, couldnt be more different.
In tandem with the “Vivaldian ardour” (International Record Review) of conductor-harpsichordist Andrea Marcon and his Venice Baroque Orchestra, violinist Giuliano Carmignola – “a wonderfully accomplished player” (Gramophone) – has raised the bar on recordings of the Venetian Baroque master. This 7-CD set contains many of Vivaldi’s most engaging concertos, enlivened with playing “full of character, energy and sensibility” (BBC Music Magazine) – including “a performance of the Four Seasons as fine as any” (ClassicsToday). It also features Carmignola and Marcon presenting the complete Bach Violin and Harpsichord Sonatas
“Here Claudio Abbado is gambolling among the Brandenburg Concertos in this straightforward TV-style concert film, recorded in the classic 19th-century opera house at Reggio Emilia during an Italian tour in spring 2007. The orchestra is at first glance a curious gathering, mixing 'Baroque' players such as violinist Giuliano Carmignola and harpsichordist Ottavio Dantone with 'modern' names such as trumpeter Reinhold Friedrich and 'un-Baroque' recorder-player Michala Petri. Furthermore, a look round the instruments reveals mostly modern models, some hybrids…” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010