Igor Ruhadze’s Brilliant Classics recording of sonatas by Locatelli (94736) won warm praise from Gramophone. ‘The playing is elegantly supple, the string tone warm, and the architecture of individual movements thoughtfully worked out. All this makes for a pleasant mood and enjoyable listening. The more exuberant pieces are brilliantly and at times breathtakingly performed.’
Fanfare extended an equally enthusiastic welcome to Ruhadze’s album of concertos by Jean-Marie Leclair (95290): ‘The playing… is really top-notch… the group’s robust sound belies its small numbers… it’s hard to argue with playing as good as this.’
With his latest Brilliant Classics album, the Dutch (Soviet Unian born) Baroque-specialist violinist and director turns to another pivotal figure in Baroque-era violin culture, Francesco Geminiani. Taught first by his violinist father and then by both Corelli and Alessandro Scarlatti in Rome, Geminiani was already a leading figure in north Italian courts in his 20s, before he undertook the move to London that made his name and fortune.
Geminiani dedicated the Op.1 Sonatas (1716) to Baron Johann Adolf Kielmansegge, his first London patron. According to Hawkins, Kielmansegge favoured the composer by arranging a performance before the king in which Geminiani was accompanied on the harpsichord by Handel. With these sonatas, which clearly stem from Corelli, Geminiani presented himself to the public as Corelli's pupil. Many imitation editions followed the first printing, but the commentator Charles Burney maintained that only the composer himself could do them full justice.
Apparently designed as a calling card for Geminiani’s talents as a violinist-composer, the Op.1 Sonatas still make strenuous technical but also expressive demands on any interpreter. Their genteel surface and polished dialogue between parts conceals an array of sophisticated contrasts between moods and demonstration of a violinist’s credentials as an artist as well as a technician.
For this new recording, Igor Ruhadze is joined not by his colleagues in the Violini Capricciosi ensemble but the Russian-born harpsichordist Alexandra Nepomnyashchaya. Having pursued graduate studies with early-music luminaries such as Richard Egarr and Menno van Delft, she too evinces intense sympathy with Geminiani’s idiom.
The start of an exciting new series: the recording of the complete works by Francesco Geminiani!
Francesco Saverio Geminiani (1687-1762) was born in Lucca. He began his study at an early age with his father, but his most important lessons followed in his years with the great Roman Master, Arcangelo Corelli. Composition lessons with Alessandro Scarlatti helped inspire and solidify his craft. In 1714 Geminiani settled in London, where he quickly gained fame as an ensemble player, concert violinist, and teacher. Here he became friends with Handel and led the orchestra during many performances together. Geminiani enjoyed great success not only in London, but also in Ireland where he spent a considerable amount of time. In 1760 he settled in Dublin, dying there in somewhat impoverished circumstances in 1762.
Geminiani's playing was distinguished by its great expressiveness, richness of dynamic coloring, extraordinary liveliness, and a strong temperament. Tartini tellingly called Geminiani "il furibondo” – the furious one!
In 1716 the 12 sonatas for Violin and Continuo Op.1 were published in London as ‘Sonate a violino, violone e cembalo’. They strongly reflect the influence of Corelli's violin sonatas. They are highly demanding works, showing a wide array of expression, ranging from sadness and introspection to buoyant brilliance and bravado.
Dutch (Soviet Union born) violinist Igor Ruhadze was trained in his Moscow as a virtuoso on the modern violin. However, his interest took him into early music, playing with such ensembles as Musica ad Rhenum, Jed Wentz and others. His solid technique enables him to tackle the often fearful difficulties of Geminiani’s music with ease, charm and brilliance. For Brilliant Classics he recorded the complete works by Locatelli, violin sonatas by Biber, violin concertos by Leclair and others.
Russian-born pianist and harpsichordist Alexandra Nepomnyashchaya graduated from the Department of Historical and Modern Art Performance at the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory from the class of Professor Olga Martynova in 2009, where she studied piano, harpsichord and fortepiano. She continued her studies at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, gaining a master’s degree under the tutelage of Richard Egarr and Menno van Delft. In 2015 Alexandra graduated at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in München under Prof. Christine Schornsheim. Alexandra has won top prizes at competitions including the International Festival of Early Music in Austria, the All-Russian Harpsichord Competition in St. Petersburg, the Prague Spring International Competition and the International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition Leipzig in 2014.