Peter Sheppard Skærved

Giuseppe Tartini: 30 Sonate Piccole, Vol. 2 - Sonatas Nos. 7-12

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The 30 sonate piccole of Giuseppe Tartini are small only individually; the composer of the Devil's Trill apparently intended them as discrete set and a kind of magnum opus. Some of them have been recorded before, but never as solo violin works. British violinist Peter Sheppard Skaerved, who has made a career of playing mostly contemporary extreme works, bases his decision on a statement by Tartini that he himself had played these works solo, and that that was his "true intention." The individual sonatas combine Tartini's virtuoso language of the middle 18th century with the simpler melodic styles that came into fashion during the later part of his life; he has the violinist play for considerable lengths of time in double or triple stops but deploys the violin mostly in straightforward period-divided melody. Skaerved's conception of the music seems the correct one, and it's worthwhile having this cycle recorded (the present album is Volume One in a projected complete series) even if the music is made up of elements that don't entirely cohere. The biggest downside here is the sound, which Skaerved talks up in a separate note. Tartini apparently believed that the "almost inaudible" sounds produced by the violin were getting lost as venues grew, noting that one of Tartini's successors proposed sticking a key onto the violin to pick them up and amplify them. "I am not prepared to do that," Skaerved said, but "the extraordinary precision of modern microphones, and the artistry of my engineer" make it possible to pick the sounds up. The result is a mess. Beginning with an unsuitable church acoustic, the engineering delivers an in-your-face sonic perspective that no audience of Tartini's would have heard, and that can only be called brutally harsh.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Sonata No. 7 in A minor
1 2:10
2 2:39
3 11:42
4 1:36
Sonata No. 8 in G minor
5 1:50
6 1:44
7 2:34
8 2:11
Sonata No. 9 in A major
9 2:54
10 3:18
11 1:38
12 1:29
13 1:39
Sonata No. 10 in B flat major
14 3:01
15 2:29
16 1:41
17 1:42
Sonata No. 11 in E major
18 2:40
19 2:43
20 1:38
21 2:16
22 0:56
Sonata No. 12 in G major
23 1:06
24 3:16
25 1:57
26 1:33
27 5:29
blue highlight denotes track pick