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Qobuz - C 9520 Francesco Maria Veracini: Music at the Düsseldorf Court

The figure of Francesco Maria Veracini will always be associated not only with his fame as an exceptional violinist and brilliant musician, but also as an extremely eccentric character, both admired and hated by his contemporaries.

Wherever he lived and performed, whether as a soloist or a composer, he made a huge impact on audiences and commentators alike, and in the extensive liner notes to this disc the reader will find a host of quotes from famous figures of his time who spoke of him in almost as many adjectives as his professional and no doubt personal life was excessive, radical and exaggerated.

On this disc we have gathered together a series of compositions by Veracini that could link him to the court of Düsseldorf, not only during the short period he spent there (between 1715 and 1716), but also later, when his career took him to Dresden as well as to important cities throughout his life, such as London, Venice or, of course, Florence, where he was born and where he died.

After his triumphant first stay in the city, Veracini left London at the end of 1714 and moved to Düsseldorf with the intention of entering the service of the Elector Palatine of the Rhine, Johann Wilhelm, in 1715. Whether Veracini stayed in Düsseldorf as a virtuoso or as a composer remains unclear. What is clear is that Veracini's time in Düsseldorf cannot be dismissed as an unimportant period in his professional or private life. Like many other artists, Veracini decided to go to the art-loving court of Johann Wilhelm von Neuburg-Wittelsbach in Düsseldorf with the intention of staying there for a long time. It is not clear whether Veracini appeared at the court as one of the virtuosos who were merely passing through (although the length of his stay and his family circumstances suggest otherwise), or whether he intended to apply for the permanent post of music director. There are plausible arguments for both possibilities. There is evidence, however, that Veracini had several opportunities to perform at court in his capacity as a virtuoso, for example in performances of Antonio Bonporti's violin sonatas (including the sonata La Pace, op. 10, dedicated to Elector Prince Johann Wilhelm). But Veracini also wanted to make a name for himself as a composer: his oratorio Mosé al mar' rosso, supposedly composed in 1715, was dedicated to Johann Wilhelm (although unfortunately the score has been lost).

Both the Concerto a cinque stromenti in A major, dated before 1730, and the Concerto a cinque stromenti in B flat major, written around 1736, show in their structures the hand of an increasingly experienced and mature composer. Although both works have in common that the solo passages and tutti are not specifically defined in terms of form and structure, their arrangement is clear and shows a very lucidly modulated construction. These developments are particularly evident in the solo parts. Whereas in the earlier compositions the solo and tutti parts seemed to be unrelated, in Veracini's later works the solo violin takes up the motif of the preceding tutti, elaborates on it and to some extent develops and continues it in an improvisatory manner. The playful character is maintained both in the change of instrumentation and in the parts themselves. The characteristics of the typical Italian violin melody are not lost in the solo part, but in the later concertos they are expanded in terms of the demands of playing technique. One of Veracini's characteristics, the interweaving of solo episodes within tutti parts, is retained in all the solo concertos and is less subject to the influence of the composer's stylistic development. The characteristics that guide the composition of concertos in relation to the soloist are specific to this genre and become more generalised in the alternation between tutti and soli episodes, without tending more or less towards the structure of the traditional form of the concerto grosso or the early solo concertos. Veracini avoided the risk of the ensemble losing its importance and becoming a mere filler or bridge to the solo parts, especially in the central movements, which are largely devoid of technically complex passages and which, in contrast to the fast, virtuosically defined outer movements, are characterised by noble gestures of melodic lyricism. What seems eccentric, however, is not the fact that the association between tutti and soli is no longer obligatory, but rather that Veracini has abandoned this association, for example in the Adagio of the A major Concerto, in favour of a solo violin presence over a solemn basso continuo passage, thus creating a movement according to the principle of the fantasia.

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Qobuz - C 9520 Francesco Maria Veracini: Music at the Düsseldorf Court

Francesco Maria Veracini: Music at the Düsseldorf Court

    • Neue Düsseldorfer Hofmusik - solo violin and director: Mary Utiger
    • Veronika Schepping, Annette Wehnert, Erik Dorset, Amelia Roosevelt, first violins
    • Anke Vogelsänger, Julia Huber, Ilsebil Hünteler, Helmut Hausberg, second violins
    • Bettina Ihrig, Hajo Bäss, Christine Moran, Helmut Hausberg, altos
    • Juris Teichmanis, Nicholas Selo, violoncellos
    • Michael Neuhaus, bass
    • Stephan Rath, theorbo
    • Christph Lehmann, harpsichord
    • Hans-Peter Westermann, Alessandro Piqué, oboes
    • Christian Beuse, bassoon
    • Hans-Martin Kothe, Almut Rux, natural trumpets
    • Egmund Krauss, timpani

Additional informations

  • Total time 67:12
  • Booklet in English and Spanish with 2 articles by Norbert Bolin and José Carlos Cabello.
  • Grabación DLR Köln, Sendesaal, October 1999
  • Engineering and digital edition Bodo Heinemann
  • Musical producer Martin Frobeen
  • Executive production, design and booklet editor for this release José Carlos Cabello
  • Cover Pompeo Batoni, detail from "Grand Tour" (1778), Museo del Prado, Madrid. All rights reserved.
✋ Please adjust first the VOLUME control on the SPEAKER ⇓ before playing ▶

Ouverture nel Partenio (1738): Ohne Satzbezeichnung (sin indicación de tempo)
Concerto a cinque stromenti en La mayor (ca. 1730): Adagio
Concerto a cinque stromenti en Se bemol mayor (ca. 1736): Allegro
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Qobuz - C 9520 Francesco Maria Veracini: Music at the Düsseldorf Court