Thursday, February 2, 2012
Back to the Phantom Concert Hall
Legend has it that Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770), himself a famed violinist and composer, had a dream in which Old Scratch himself showed up, playing the violin, playing a fantastically difficult piece, and when he woke, he quickly scribbled down the parts he remembered and built this sonata around them. Not sure how true it is, but the piece is notoriously devilish to play, requiring lots of difficult acrobatics with the fingers that even by modern standards it's hard to perform. One story has it that Tartini himself had a sixth finger on one hand that enabled him to play these fiendish trills!
If you can get hold of Rachel Barton's CD "Instrument of the Devil," a collection of diabolical string works, the liner notes have good stuff about Old Nick and the fiddle. Plus there's another version of this piece, done as a chamber work with only a harpsichord for accompaniment.
So sit back, relax, and let the Devil have his moment...you'll be none the worse for wear...or will you?