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A Locatelli critique

Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin CanonExternal link is shot into orbit by a wonderful rendering of Locatelli'sExternal link (apparently fictional) C major quartet (a scene that incidentally convinced me, before I had got to the bottom of the first page, that I was going to love these books).

The sleeve notes of the CD on which Musica ad Rhenum play his flute sonatas (6 Sonata a Tre Op. 5) contain the following contemporary critiques of this great Italian violin virtuoso.


An English visitor to Amsterdam wrote: He pays his Laberinthe & another piece, which he has lately composed 50 times more difficult, with more ease than I can hum je Black Jake; and what is more extraordinary, he never pulls off his Coat to play it, as I have observed many other great Musiciens do. For my part I look upon him to be as great a Player as Handel, though the latter be so much bigger and taller. He plays with so much Fury upon his Fiddle, that in my humble opinion, he must wear out some Dozens of them in a year: Mr Smith ye bookseller here, who is Master of a great stock of Learning in all ye Arts & Sciences, told us, That he (Locatelli) never was known to play one note out of Tune, except once, when in performing ye difficult piece he has lately composed, he thrust his little finger thro' ye Bridge of ye Fiddle & could not get it out again.

J.W. Lustig said: His playing on the violin was very harmonieux, and left almost no audience unmoved, but at the same time so brutal that sensitive ears found it unbearable.

Charles Henri de Blainville remarked: Locatelli, when performing the first adagio of the fourth sonata by Corelli, was able, by his style of playing, to make a caged song bird fall from its perch in a swoon of pleasure.

There is also an interesting link to the secret writing thread with the remark that Tartini, a contemporary of Locatelli, wrote suggestive lines of poetry in secret code above the violin parts of his music, so that he would remember the exact verses that had been his inspiration, without making them known to others.


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