Soulfulness and brilliance are in plentiful supply on this winning album

Locatelli: Il Virtuoso, Il Poeta


The Strad Issue: October 2023

Description: Soulfulness and brilliance are in plentiful supply on this winning album

Musicians: Isabelle Faust (violin) Il Giardino Armonico/Giovanni Antonini

Works: Locatelli: Violin Concertos: C minor op.3 no.2; A major op.3 no.11; Concerti grossi: C minor op.1 no.11; E flat major, op.7 no.6 ‘Il pianto d’Arianna’; F minor op.1 no.8 – Pastorale

Catalogue number: HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902398

Locatelli: Il Virtuoso, Il Poeta

Isabelle Faust demonstrates her virtuosity in stunning accounts of two concertos from Locatelli’s L’arte del violino op.3. She breezes through their prescribed technical challenges and performs the capriccios for both works’ outer movements with extraordinary dexterity, accuracy and timing, adding apposite post-capriccio cadenzas by Godefridus Reber (1743). Many aspects of her interpretation nod towards HIP, notably her restrained vibrato, clear articulation and imaginative extempore ornamentation.

Compared with op.3, the demands of Locatelli’s op.1 no.11 are like chalk and cheese; but Faust gives the opening Largo a pleasing sense of line and interacts sensitively with fellow violin soloist Stefano Barneschi in the Sarabanda. Their Allemanda and Giga are neat, sprightly and abound with rhythmic energy and dynamic contrast. They forge a convincing dramatic scenario for Locatelli’s six-movement op.7 no.6, interpreting one version of the Greek myth about Ariadne’s abandonment on Naxos. Faust evokes Ariadne’s contrasting emotions sensitively and theatrically in recitatives and aria-like slow movements, admirably conveying Ariadne’s sorrowful acceptance of her destiny. A slick rendition of the Pastorale from op.1 no.8 is an unconventional finisher, but lengthy procrastination over the final cadence confirms the end. The small string ensemble is constantly alert, but the continuo instruments, laudably varied, occasionally receive a raw deal in the balance.