Fabio Biondi and the fullness of Baroque bows at Victoria Hall

Fabio Biondi is this violinist from Palermo who appeared on the baroque scene almost thirty years ago. He is part of the first generation of Italian Baroque musicians who dusted off the interpretations of Vivaldi, Geminiani and Boccherini. Thursday evening, he returned to the Victoria Hall in Geneva, escorted by a dozen musicians from the Europa Galante ensemble founded in 1990.

Today, it is a mixture of veterans and young recruits who make up this group. They have lost none of their chic. Far from wanting to impose a stamped “baroque” style, they play with a lively and natural style. A certain earthly good sense combined with a spiritual elevation characterizes these interpretations. We are far from the annoying tics that characterized certain versions on period instruments of the 1990s wanting absolutely to stand out from the mainstream and impose caustic re-readings, at the risk of falling into a style between rock and hip-hop with exaggerated thrusts.

Virtuoso strokes springing like sparks

From the outset, we appreciate the plenitude of the baroque bows in the Concerto grosso no 12 in D minor by Geminiani according to the Sonatas “La Follia” of Arcangelo Corelli. The theme of Madness, very popular in the 17th and 18th centuries, lends itself to all sorts of variations. The first violin Fabio Biondi and the solo cello Alessandro Adriani are very much in demand, punctuating the speech with virtuoso lines springing up like sparks. No harshness in the overall sound, a beautiful homogeneity.

Generally speaking, Fabio Biondi plays with wit and vivacity, always ready to bounce off the musical phrases. He is joined by violinist Elin Gabrielsson in a magnificent Concerto from Vivaldi’s L’Estro armonico collection. The two bows go well together, despite minor dross which does not detract from the quality of the interpretation. the Concerto in D major BWV 1054 by Bach makes it possible to appreciate the harpsichordist of the ensemble, Paola Poncet. Well-articulated acting, clarity of speech; we regret that the sound of the harpsichord is dispersed in a room as large as the Victoria Hall.

Flying highs

Fabio Biondi swaps his baroque violin for a viola d’amore in a Concerto in D minor by Vivaldi with a slightly melancholic color. Then he returns to his first instrument for the Concert “For Anna Maria” particularly demanding for the soloist. Perilous lines, strings of notes which give the impression of reaching a ceiling in the treble: the Italian makes the notes flutter. At 60, he remains very sure from a technical point of view and is not afraid of violinistic difficulties.

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The Little Night Music of Mozart closed this concert with a very consensual program. We feared boredom, as the work is rehashed, but Fabio Biondi and his friends from the Europa Galante breathe an invigorating air into it. This interpretation reminds us that the champion of Viennese classicism – Mozart – emerged from the Baroque era. Warmly acclaimed, the violinist briefly takes the floor to introduce the encore in clear French: la Barbaresca of Biber. A success!

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