The Italian violinist and composer Giuseppe Tartini absorbed the ideals of the Enlightenment, concluding that music was a manifestation of the natural order. Sigurd Imsen’s program of three Tartini chamber works—the Sonata in F Major, Op. 1, No. 12; The Devil’s Sonata (also known as The Devil’s Trill); and the Pastorale in A Major, Op. 1, No. 13— is titled “Secondo natura,” meaning elemental. Indeed, Imsen’s playing is a force of nature, boldly impassioned and floridly ornamented. He demonstrates that a rigorously authentic approach to older music need not leave virtuosity out of the picture. Imsen plays a copy of Tartini’s Stradivarius violin—the original is still in use but has been modernized. The sound is more concentrated and less brilliant than we’re used to; that Imsen applies significantly more bow pressure is an important factor as well. For the Pastorale, the soloist employs a Hardanger fiddle, a traditional Norwegian instrument that’s smaller and lighter than a modern violin, with sympathetic strings that are caused to resonate when the main four are activated. Especially in surround, 2L’s usual recording philosophy is “immersive,” but here, Imsen and his able accompanists (on baroque cello and harpsichord) are palpably present in one’s listening space.
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