Giuseppe Tartini - Palladians - BBC Music Magazine
It's 15 years since I enthused about the debut disc of the (then) ‘Palladian Ensemble'- ‘sparkling playing', ‘uninhibited joy', ‘technical mastery' and ‘unrestrained imagination'. Archlutenist and guitarist William Carter alone remains of the original ensemble but these qualities survive undiminished, though uninhibited joy gives way to heart-rending passion in Tartini's evocation of ‘Didone abbandonata', Dido deserted, enraged and finally overcome with suicidal despair. The gentle, compassionate playing of the bleak final movement of this sonata is deeply moving.
So too is the ‘Devil's Sonata', its repeats imaginatively decorated with stinging dissonances and ‘blue notes'. The final movement is particularly striking, fast harmony beneath technically demanding multi-stopping - the violin maintains two parts, one of them the ‘Devil's Trill'. The sound is exceptionally resonant, as much from expressively legato playing and the natural reverberation of the instruments (particularly archlute) as from the acoustic environment. Finely judged engineering, with the added aural dimension of surround-sound, create an enveloping warmth which intensifies the powerful rhetoric and expressiveness of the performance; this is breath-taking stuff.
Carter's perceptive notes justify including a dazzling Veracini sonata - with a reminder that virtuosity can arise from a desire to express rather than simply amaze - and also two lovely isolated slow movements.