Chouchane Siranossian - Tartini: Violin Concertos - Classics Today

Artistic quality: 9
Sound quality: 10

Giuseppe Tartini has two things working against him: He’s not Vivaldi; and when acknowledged at all, he is often reduced to his Devil’s Trill Sonata (incidentally referenced in the slow movement of the D. 56 concerto, featured on this disc). The Naxos Music Library–to use a random measuring stick–features a respectable 250 items of his (on most of which he is mere filler). Vivaldi: Eleven times as many (and on most he’s the star). But Tartini’s concertos are terrific and sufficiently different from Vivaldi’s that they ought to exert considerable pull on any music listener interested in baroque concertos.

This is particularly true of his early concertos (D. 56 and D. 44), which are sunny and joyous, with a melodic and harmonic inventiveness that memorably sets them apart from anything that might be deemed “run-of-the-mill” or conventional Italian baroque. There’s also a pleasant amount of introspection to be found (D. 44 and D. 45), not just superficially dazzling baroque fiddling.

Andrea Marcon, leading energetically from the harpsichord, and his Venice Baroque Orchestra provide terrific playing (as they exhibited in their one-off Tartini concerto with Giuliano Carmignola for Archiv on–you guessed it–a Vivaldi disc). Soloist Chouchan Siranossian’s fine, elegant, and subtly intense tone, with perfect intonation and delicate mobility, suits the singing nature of these pieces well; the ornamentation is delightful. (For authenticity-mavens: Manuscripts with the original ornaments survived and were used for the slow movements of two concertos. A world-premiere recording of a concerto only recently attributed to Tartini is also included.)

If loving this on first listening wasn’t enough, comparison bodes well for Siranossian and Marcon, too: In D. 56, for example, Felix Ayo and the Symphonia Perusina (Dynamic) deliver a smoothly soapy, broad symphonic performance that befits the roomy skating-rink acoustic. Giovanni Guglielmo and Arte dell’Arco (also on Dynamic) are just as slow. At least they offer far more interesting orchestral textures, but are then let down by labored playing and infelicitous intonation. Listening to Salvatore Accardo (with I Musici or, better, the English Chamber Orchestra) amounts to virtual time travel. For what it’s worth, half a century later, they do their thing with conviction and beauty.

Much of this applies to any of the other concertos, to the extent there is any competition to begin with. The best you can do for dedicated Tartini recordings, outside this disc, is probably Naxos’ series of recordings with Ariadne Daskalakis and the reliably delightful Cologne Chamber Orchestra under Helmut Müller-Brühl. But that can only supplement, not replace, this disc, which jumps to the top of the Tartini heap with absolute ease. It does so, not because Siranossian and Marcon arguably outplay the non-competition with faster tempos, but rather with more pointed articulation, exactitude, more incisive rhythm, more detailed texture, and a palpable enthusiasm and energy that’s generally lacking from other Tartini efforts. Every phrase makes intuitive sense. They make it impossible not to be enthusiastic about this disc.

Classics Today
21 July 2020