Ruhadze plays Geminiani: the latest volume in a revelatory project breathing new life into the founding figures of the Italian violin school of the 18th century.
The violinist Igor Ruhadze has already attracted superlatives and a dedicated following for his series of Locatelli albums on Brilliant Classics. With his colleague Alexandra Nepomnyashchaya, he has now turned to no less significant a figure in the rapidly evolving world of 18th-century Italy, Francesco Geminiani. In 2022, their album of the Op.1 Violin Sonatas won universal praise: ‘a superb new recording… These musicians do honour to the period performance movement, and their release goes straight to the head of today’s Baroque offerings.’ As another Fanfare reviewer observed, ‘The early-music world needs more performers like Igor Ruhadze. The violinist, born in Russia and now living in Amsterdam, divides his time between historically informed performance of Baroque music and conventional “modern” violin playing, and the results are outstanding. He plays on a Jacobs violin from 1693, and his sound in Geminiani’s Op.1 sonatas is sweet and majestic, with a wonderfully sustained and developed melodic line.’
Lending further attraction to these albums is that the sonatas in each collection are so rarely gathered together, but rather performed piecemeal within compilations of the Italian Baroque. Yet the genius of Geminiani stands up on its own. While the Op.1 collection dates from 1714, just two years after Geminiani had settled in London, Op.4 was published in 1739, alongside a revision of Op.1. In the meanwhile he had become known, not only in England but across Europe, for the brilliance and imagination of his playing, which transfers itself so readily on to the pages of these sonatas. They posed the stiffest challenge to violinists of their time – perhaps only Geminiani himself could have done them full justice – and yet now they come alive under the fingers of Ruhadze with new energy in which flamboyance is balanced with grace and elegance.
- 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!
- This album presents the series of new sonatas that Geminiani composed during the 1730s, known as his "Sonate a violino e basso, Opera quarta", the sonatas for violin and basso continuo, Opus 4, published in London in 1739, written in a mixed style: the French style was characterized by refinement, detail, and elaborate ornamentation, whereas the Italian style was more straightforward, with fewer embellishments.
- Played by Igor Ruhadze, Baroque violin and Alexandra Nepomnyashchaya, harpsichord. This duo already recorded the Op. 1 violin sonatas by Geminiani. Fanfare about this recording: “ The early-music world needs more performers like Igor Ruhadze. When a period player is truly fine—and Igor Ruhadze fits into this category—he or she can combine the rhetorical and the purely musical aspects in his playing to perfection. Ruhadze knows the conventions of Baroque style and expression thoroughly, but above all he is a violinist who plays superbly. This is some of the most accomplished historically informed violin playing I have heard in a long time, and should reconcile fans in the “period” and “modern” camps.”