Michelucci/I Musici: Locatelli 3 Violin Concerti Op. 3 - Philips 6580 035
Jacket EX / LP NM
This outstanding LP – a superb collector's copy – from Philips (6580 035 "Universo Serie", Dutch pressing, blue/silver label, stereo) features the crack ensemble I Musici's virtuoso and poetic renditions of 3 of Pietro Antonio Locatelli's Violin Concertos from Op. 3: No. 1 in D major, No. 8 in E minor, and No. 9 in G Major, with the great Roberto Michelucci the inspired soloist. Recorded at Salle de la Villa, Rome on 24 April 1960, the sound boasts great immediacy, transparency, and brilliance – truly wonderful!
Of Philips' "Living Baroque" re-issue of these performances, the critic M.M. wrote in her review for the October 1973 issue of The Gramophone:
"To be a pupil of Corelli must have been a good start; yet nobody, later, took very much notice of Locatelli. The difficulty of his violin-writing may have been a factor: where Corelli seldom exacted any position above the third, Locatelli had no such scruples, ready in his Caprices, in particular, to send his soloist up into regions previously hardly explored. That is, if he had a soloist other than himself in mind; it is doubtful if these Caprices, written during a thirty-five years' 'retirement' in Amsterdam, were played by anybody else during Locatelli's lifetime.
"A sharp-eyed reader who wonders why I am writing about the Caprices while supposed to be reviewing a record of the Concertos may be reassured: the shorter pieces are integral parts of the longer, taking the place of the normal cadenzas of the period. Each of the outer movements of each of twelve concertos has them: a set of twenty-four, thus, to rival those of Paganini. For they exploit eighteenth-century violin technique as Paganini's did nineteenth century technique; and given the right context and the right player they can make an equivalent effect.
"Locatelli himself arranges the right context, by placing them in the middle of their parent concertos. These are less exacting than the offspring Caprices, yet more exacting than the average concerto of the period; and the style of their lyrical moments supplies an admirable foil in any case. Philips, on this occasion, supply the right player: Michelucci, who allows the Caprices something like a coruscating degree of brilliance, while still managing to make them seem integral with the parent concertos. In these main movements he is well supported by the strings and, quite often audibly, the harpsichord of I Musici. Balance between soloist and strings is very good, and so is the general quality of recording. Locatelli entitled the whole set of these concertos and caprices The Art of the Violin; after hearing the music a listener will likely think the title a lot less pretentious, a lot closer to being justified."
Incidentally, the excellent liner notes on the reverse side of the jacket, in German only, were written by Bonnie Jacobson.