Giuseppe Tartini - Palladians - BBC Online

The erstwhile Palladian Ensemble takes a first step into a more flexible and multi-faceted future in fine fashion with what proves to be one of the most intelligently programmed and entertainingly played discs of the year thus far.

Only archlutist and guitarist William Carter remains here from the original line-up, as a partial change of name points to a new modus operandi for this and future projects. Players will now come and go as required by the demands of particular programmes, and if the arrival of Palladian newcomers Rudolfo Richter (violin), Susanne Heinrich (viola da gamba) and Silas Standage (harpsichord) is a measure of a well-managed change, then future recordings are to be looked forward to with relish.

Doubly impressive about this recital is the imaginative yet idiomatically alert approach to the well-trod territory of Tartini sonatas and the no less revealing addition of Francesco Maria Veracini's lusty A major Sonata (Op 1 No.7) to add telling context.

Tartini's oft-recorded Devil's Trill Sonata comes up here sounding vivid, vital and fresh. Where the fierce technical demands of the demonically-inspired piece are often glossed over, its invitation to displays of outward flamboyance all too irresistible (Andrew Manze on Harmonia Mundi an honourable exception), here they are brought into sharp and exhilarating relief by Richter's probing, razor-sharp dexterity in what can be a perilously combustible piece, and superbly framed by the cultured underpinning of the elegant but incisive accompaniment.

It is a measure of how sensitively attuned to the accent and attitude of the music all four players are, that Tartini's signature work is blissfully overshadowed by his own Didone abbandonata (Op 1 No.10; also in G minor). The gradations of this emotionally febrile, musically volatile sonata are mapped out with a poetic precision that foregrounds its heart-aching turmoil and torment to pungently bittersweet effect. From the same opus, the buoyant, light-as-a-feather A major Pastorale (No.13) receives a reading of faultless ensemble shot through with illuminating individual detail.

The inclusion of the five-movement A major Sonata (Op 1 No.7) by Veracini, Tartini's peer and, if contemporary accounts are to be believed, peerless violinist, offers the Palladians a set of different but no less virtuosic provocations to dazzle and delight, not least the relative exotica of the opening Cantabile and fourth-movement Largo, and the barnstorming Allegro finale.

Playing throughout is impeccable with an astonishing sense of shared ensemble and reciprocity for so newly-assembled a quartet. The recorded sound is up to Linn's usual exemplary standards.

BBC Online
25 August 2008