Sunday, 6 July 2008

124. Giuseppe Tartini - Violin Sonata in G minor, "The Devil's Trill" (c.1765)


Title: Baroque Transcriptions
Performer: Ida Haendel (Violin), Geoffrey Parsons (Piano)
Year: 1976
Length: 15 minutes


This is a work that is more interesting for it's story and technical difficulties than really in the way it sounds. Supposedly Tartini dreamt of the Devil playing violin and it was the last movement of this symphony that he played. And really the last movement sounds impossibly complex and different.

Actually it sounds pretty modern in that last bit, very dissonant, but then the first three movements are a kind of filler leading up to the interesting finale. The technical prowess necessary to accomplish that finale tells us much of Tartini's capacity as a player.

Other than this, however it is not that fascinating, quite nice and all, and proficiency in the Violin more than necessary to accomplish it. Ida Haendel does it great and that is all you require. Interesting, but not much more than that.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

The story behind "Devil's Trill" starts with a dream. Tartini allegedly told the French astronomer Jérôme Lalande that he dreamed that The Devil appeared to him and asked to be his servant. At the end of their lessons Tartini handed the devil his violin to test his skill—the devil immediately began to play with such virtuosity that Tartini felt his breath taken away. When the composer awoke he immediately jotted down the sonata, desperately trying to recapture what he had heard in the dream. Despite the sonata being successful with his audiences, Tartini lamented that the piece was still far from what he had heard in his dream. What he had written was, in his own words: "so inferior to what [he] had heard, that if [he] could have subsisted on other means, [he] would have broken [his] violin and abandoned music forever."

The interesting bit of it, played by Shumsky:

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