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Very little is known about the violinist Pietro Antonio Locatelli. After setting off for Rome in 1711 to begin his career, he seems to have conducted some sort of tour of Italy and Germany during the 1720s. By 1730 he had settled in Amsterdam where, having become the wealthiest musician of the city, he died in 1764.
The 24 Capricci detailed on this CD were published in 1733 as part of the Italian’s magnum opus, L’arte del Violino. Written as optional additions to each of the 12 concertos comprising the collection, they rank among the most difficult music of their day and feature many devices popular in virtuoso compositions of the time. From Capriccio No.4’s exercise in extreme string crossing to No.15’s fourth finger trills and No.18’s use of a three-voice fugue, these are works whose technical demands compare with Paganini’s equivalent set.
Because of their technical extremity and the obsession of the later French violin school with the étude, it is a sad fact that Locatelli’s 24 Capricci were used not so much for public performance as for personal dedication after the composer’s death. They are, however, beginning to enjoy a resurgence in popularity and this compilation shows why; show-stopping playing from Emmanuele Baldini makes this set a fascinating addition to the Newton Classics early-music catalogue.
Emmanuele Baldini has recorded Vivaldi’s complete concertos Opp. 3, 4 & 8 with his own Baldini ensemble.
He is currently leader of the Orquestra Sinfonica do Estado de São Paulo in Brazil.