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Here is some music for an early January afternoon. The settecento is filled with wonderful violin music, but the real gem of the epoch is Pietro Antonio Locatelli’s L’arte del violino, published as opus 3 in Amsterdam in 1733. We usually associate the virtuoso violin with the epoch of Paginini, but a century earlier, Locatelli was doing unimaginable things with a violin, and building a series of concertos around his technical virtuosity. There are twelve concertos in the opus, and each features a virtuoso capriccio in which the violinist is challenged to a new kind of artistry. There are a number of recordings of the opus 3, including a memorable one by Suzanne Lautenbacher with the Mainz Chamber Orchestra (Vox CD X 5018), but one wins hands down, and it involves period instruments to boot: Elizabeth Wallfisch with the Raglan Baroque Players in a Hyperion recording from 1993 (Hyperion CD A66721/3). Here is the first concerto, famous for its vexatiously difficult bowing (note the slurred staccato in the capriccio to the second movement), it introduces the opus with real panache. Elizabeth Wallfisch performs on a baroque violin, made around 1750 by Petrus Paulus de Vitor in Brescia.
More from Scott Horton:
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Years ago, I lived in Montana, a land of purple sunsets, clear streams, and snowflakes the size of silver dollars drifting through the cold air. There were no speed limits and you could legally drive drunk. My small apartment in Missoula had little privacy. In order to write, I rented an off-season fishing cabin on Rock Creek, a one-room place with a bed and a bureau. I lacked the budget for a desk. My idea was to remove a sliding door from a closet in my apartment and place it over a couple of hastily cobbled-together sawhorses.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”