Telemann: 6 violin sonatas, Frankfurt 1715

Valerio Losito violin, Federico Del Sordo harpsichord
Brilliant Classics 95391

These sonatas for violin and continuo were the composer’s first published set, dedicated to Prince Johann Ernst of Saxe-Weimar, known to music history as a composer (Bach arranged his music for keyboard) who died, aged only 18, in the same year (1715).

Valerio Losito believes that each of the six sonatas reflects a different aspect of the prince’s character, as listed in the dedication, and this informs his performances of the music. His renditions are certainly lively, and Del Sordo’s accompaniments are similarly committed, but I wonder if the microphones were simply too close to the violin, since some of the bow strokes are overly edgy; rarely are both notes at either ends of wide leaps equally audible (even allowing for one being stronger than the other as part of an interpretation); sometimes the accompaniment clouds the solo line (the end of track 7 is a case in point). It is very impressive how the harpsichord fills the accompaniment role (and how odd his absence seems in track 9, as if the violinist has gone off on a folk turn…) There are a few nice ideas here (from the performers, as well as the composer) but I found the whole experience hard work (and the over-emphasized low notes in track 10 tedious…) Dare I suggest the performers have over-interpreted at the music’s expense?

Brian Clark