The instructional treatises of Francesco Geminiani were broadly known in Britain in the middle of the 18th century; the one explored here, The Art of Playing on the Violin, was even reprinted in the American colonies. They deserve to be better known than they are, and this release by German, historical-performance specialist Gottfried von der Goltz is, therefore, welcome. The question of ornamentation in Baroque violin music is usually an open one, but here it's not: in the 12 "Compositions" that lie at the center of the program, Geminiani shows you exactly how to do it. These are interesting little works in themselves (sample any of them): some little sonata movements, some contrapuntal essays or slow melodies, some sonata da camera dances. Presumably the lessons acquired from studying them might have been applied in the two sonatas for violin and continuo at the end, although those were written earlier. There is also an example of how violinists of the day were taught to do pure improvisation, which still gets short shrift in Baroque programming. The continuo, with a marvelously sensitive theorbo from Thomas C. Boysen, is exceptionally fine. One might have hoped for more specific information in the notes about the role of the Compositions and the specific lessons they were intended to impart, and also for more intimate home music-room sound as opposed to the flashy, over-bright environments from Freiburg's Little Tribeca studio. But this will be a must-have for those interested in Baroque violin music.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|The Art of Playing on the Violin, Op. 9|
|Sonata No. 8, Op. 4|
|Sonata No. 6, Op. 4|