Fabio Biondi / Antonio Fantinuoli / Giangiacomo Pinardi / Paola Poncet

The 1690 'Tuscan' Stradivari: Violin Sonatas in 18th-century Italy

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The Stradivari violin known as the "Tuscan" (Il Toscana) received that name from a collector who owned it for a time. The instrument has had an interesting history, passing through various collections and dealerships before coming to rest at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, where it has been held in a museum collection and rarely played. Much of the attraction of this release by Baroque violinist Fabio Biondi, backed in these sonatas by a trio of continuo players, is simply the chance to hear the instrument, strung and tuned as it might have been in the early 1700s. It has a startling, almost percussive quality, with a shimmering variety of tones in slower music. To hear what it can do, sample one of the virtuoso pieces, like the Presto from Tartini's Violin Sonata in G minor, Op. 1, No. 10 ("Didone abbandonata"), and imagine how the instrument's slashing attacks would have thrilled audiences of Tartini's day. The music is from periods later than 1690, but of course these composers would have written for violins that were around, not ones that had just been delivered, and it works well in all the music. The Ciaccona of Veracini offers another fine demonstration of the instrument's strengths, and there are sonatas by the better-known Geminiani, Corelli, Locatelli, and finally Vivaldi, all sounding not quite like you've ever heard them before. Glossa, perhaps underrated for its engineering prowess, delivers excellent sound, close up but not overbearing, from the Auditorium Parco della Music in Rome. Highly recommended.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Sonata "Accademica" Op. 2 No. 12 (D minor)
1 05:38
Sonata Op. 4 No. 8 (D minor)
2 01:30
3 04:49
4 03:17
5 04:05
Sonata Op. 5 No. 9 (A major)
6 05:11
7 03:35
8 00:30
9 02:42
Sonata Op. 1 No. 10 "Didone abbandonata" (G minor)
10 08:48
11 02:30
12 03:19
Sonata "Leufsta" (G minor)
13 00:24
14 02:15
15 04:09
16 01:57
Sonata F.XIII No. 16, RV 34 (Bb major)
17 01:36
18 02:11
19 01:21
20 02:02
blue highlight denotes track pick