Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Pugnani Violin Concertos As They Were Meant To Be Played

This recording is more remarkable then it appears at first listen. Gaetano Pugnani was one of the most brilliant violinists of his age. At age ten he joined the Royal Chapel of Turin -- as first violinist.

As a virtuoso, he performed with the leading orchestras of the day. And, as was the custom, wrote a great deal of the music he performed in concert -- like the violin concertos on this release.

Pugnani's concertos are written a light, transparent Galant style. His music sounds similar to that of Johann Christian Bach and Carl Abel (he worked with both). The solo violin part has plenty to do. But there's more to this music than just fireworks.

In order to do Pugnani's music justice, his melodies should be played with sensitivity, expressiveness, and sometimes simplicity. Violinist Roberto Noferini has made a study of Pugnani's concertos. His playing shows a real affinity with the music. And something more.

During Pugnani's day, cadenzas were improvised, making each performance unique. Over time, composers began to write out cadenzas. Recently, some artists have written their own cadenzas, reasserting the opportunity for true self-expression.

Roberto Noferini goes one better. The cadenzas on this recording are all improvised. Noferini has some completely absorbed the music that he could improvise in the style of Pugnani.

And it works. Just listening to the music I didn't hear anything that sounded out of place or anachronistic. And although Noferini's cadenzas stay true to the style, they also work with the material in interesting ways.

This is fine music-making indeed.

Gaetano Pugnani: Violin Concertos 
Roberto Noferini, violin 
Orchestra Nuove Assonanze; Alan Freiles Magnatta, conductor 
Tactus TC 731601

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