The Violin’s Delight: A Garden of Pleasure

Plamena Nikitossova violin,  Julian Behr theorbo,  Matthias Müller violone,  Jörg-Andreas Botticher harpsichord/organ
Claves 50-1727

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This exploration of the fantastical world of 17th-century virtuosic solo violin music adds a number of names to the increasingly familiar Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber and Georg Muffat. Heinrich Lizkau, Phillip Friedrich Böddecker, Heinrich Döbel, Johann Jacob Walter and Johann Caspar Kerll can all hold their heads up in this impressive company, producing wildly imaginative music for solo violin, which jumping a generation or two seems to have more in common with the technical fireworks and sheer fantasy of the likes of Paganini. As a Biber fan of long standing, it is exciting to have confirmed that he was by no means working in isolation, and we can almost hear these composers vying with one another in the sheer quirky creativity of their compositions. Plamena Nikitossova plays with stunning virtuosity and enormous flair,  as well as a saucy wit where appropriate, and the distinctive playing position she adopts following the advice of Georg Falck’s 1688 treatise Idea boni cantoris adds a certain authenticity to her approach. Her Jakobus Stainer violin of 1659 has a rich and flamboyant tone, while her continuo team employing a modern copy of a Stradivarius guitar (!), theorbo, violone, a clavimusicum omnitonum, and the 1642 organ of the Franziskanerkirche in Vienna are sympathetically supportive.

D. James Ross

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