Francesco Maria Veracini: Sonatas

John Holloway

Featured Artists Recorded

September 2003, Propstei St. Gerold

Original Release Date


  • Sonata No.1 in g Minor
    (Francesco Maria Veracini)
  • 1Overtura. Largo - Allegro05:40
  • 2Aria. Affetuoso04:40
  • 3Paesana. Allegro01:51
  • 4Minuet. Allegro01:19
  • 5Giga "Postiglione". Allegro04:28
  • Sonata No.5 in C Major
    (Francesco Maria Veracini)
  • 6Largo02:18
  • 7Allegro02:17
  • 8Largo02:53
  • 9Allegro03:16
  • Sonata No.1 in D Major (Dissertazioni)
    (Francesco Maria Veracini)
  • 10Grave - Allegro03:12
  • 11Allegro02:41
  • 12Allegro01:02
  • 13Adagio02:52
  • 14Allegro02:06
  • Sonata No.5 in C Major
    (Francesco Maria Veracini)
  • 15Siciliana. Larghetto03:06
  • Sonata No.6 in A Major
    (Francesco Maria Veracini)
  • 16Capriccio. Allegro, e con affetto05:03
  • 17Andante moderato03:27
  • 18Largo05:37
  • 19Allegro assai03:31
The Italian composer Francesco Maria Veracini is little known outside classical music. Based on this album, that’s a shame. … Even if all he had composed were these sonatas, he should be better known, as violinist John Holloway, cellist Jap ter Linden, and Lars Ulrik Mortensen on the harpsichord bring these tunes to vivid life. The group’s sense of dynamics and Holloway’s precise, gorgeous lines would make for a fine set whatever the music.
Ross Boissoneau, Progression (USA)
Violinist-composer Francesco Maria Veracini is less familiar than Vivaldi but no less brilliant or historically important. Violinist John Holloway, cellist Jaap ter Linden and harpsichordist Lars Ulrik Mortensen, three of Europe’s most eminent players of period instruments, take full measure of his genius in four sonatas.
Joseph McLellan, The Washington Post
John Holloway has chosen a single violin Sonata from four different, sometimes strongly contrasting collections. The fine sonata in A major from Sonate accademiche, Op. 2, is the best sustained and most unusual of them, being amply furnished with the kind of gestures which prompted Burney´s comment. John Holloway plays with all his customary understanding of Baroque style and is sympathetically underpinned by his excellent continuo partners.
Nicholas Anderson, BBC Music Magazine
ECM’s new release shows the prolific Francesco Maria Veracini at his most versatile with a sampling of four violin sonatas. John Holloway, a Baroque violinist of impeccable taste, is an admirable advocate of this composer’s brilliant works. Instead of imposing a performer’s personality on to the score, Holloway clarifies Veracini’s intriguing harmonies and textures with strong rhythmic propulsion and clear intonation.
Heather Kurzbauer, The Strad
Redlich verdient hat er sich seinen Ruf als Exzentriker: der spätbarocke Violinvirtuose und Komponist Francesco Maria Veracini! Voller Launen steckt seine hemmungslos spielfreudige Musik. Da ist es gut, dass John Holloway darauf verzichtet hat, noch einen draufzusetzen, sondern ganz ernsthaft allen Wendungen und Überraschungen des Tonsatzes nachspürt. Als sei das alles ganz natürlich, ob die kuriosen chromatischen Gänge der Aria der G-Dur-Sonate von 1721 oder die bizarre Harmonik des Capriccios der A-Dur-Sonate von 1744. Ein glänzendes Plädoyer für die Musik Veracinis.
Klemens Hippel, Crescendo
In John Holloway findet diese Musik einen kongenialen Interpreten. ... Auf effektvolle Mätzchen, wie sie italienische und deutsche Barockgeiger nicht ohne Publikumszuspruch vorführen, verzichtet Holloway völlig. Er besticht durch einen sehr klaren, zielstrebigen Ton, durch ein ungemein wendiges Agieren der linken Hand – man achte nur auf seine gestochen scharfen Triller und sonstigen Verzierungen – und zugleich durch eine erhabene Gestik, die bei aller Detailgenauigkeit die weiten Bögen nicht außer Acht lässt. Vorbildlich zeigt Holloway, wo die Grenze zwischen Selbstbewusstsein und Profilneurose liegt, womit er nicht nur Veracini einen großen Dienst erweist.
Matthias Hengelbrock, Fono Forum
John Holloway’s “violinist’s journey” through great works of the 17th and 18th century, begun with his acclaimed New Series recordings of Schmelzer, Biber and Muffat, reaches a new stage with his account of the sonatas of Francesco Maria Veracini (1690-1768). The present recording - introducing a new ensemble, as Dutch cellist Jaap ter Linden joins British baroque violinist Holloway and Danish harpsichordist Lars Ulrik Mortensen – offers fascinating insights into the work of a composer whose musical achievements are still often undervalued, or overshadowed, in contemporary accounts, by the idiosyncrasies of his personal life.

In his liner notes, Holloway says of Veracini: “With his combination of brilliant technical and compositional innovation firmly rooted in the best music of the previous generation, Veracini earns an honoured place in the short list of truly great violinist-composers which includes Biber and - from a much later generation – Ysaÿe .... and, of course, Bach”.

That the Italian was one of the outstanding virtuosi of the 18th century was clear enough to his contemporaries. There are numerous reports of the clarity and forcefulness of his playing cutting through the sound of an orchestra. Even the great violinist Giuseppe Tartini is said to have been so overwhelmed by Veracini’s playing that he took time off from public performance to hone his own skills.

Veracini was one of the first musicians of his time to prefer the existence of a freelance soloist to a career as an employed court musician. From 1714 on, he enjoyed his success in London as well as in various other musical centers of Europe. He was a ‘star’ par excellence, brilliant eccentric, with no doubts about his own abilities, frequently asserting that there was only one God, and one Veracini!

Although he wrote secular and spiritual cantatas, concertos, oratorios and operas, Veracini’s significance as a composer rests on his four collections of violin sonatas, which, composed or published in 1716, 1721, 1744 and the late 1750s, span virtually his whole creative career. For the present CD, John Holloway has chosen one characteristic example of each – music that speaks for itself while allowing us to trace Veracini’s development as an artist.

The twelve "Sonate a violino, o flauto solo" with their strict use of four-movement sequences follow the sonata da chiesa form, but have no fugues. Yet the twelve sonatas published as Opus I in Dresden in 1721 represent a significant step forward, coming closer to the ambitiously contrapuntal German style. The first sonata on the present CD begins with a French overture in dotted rhythms, revealing ‘experimental’ traits in sound and technique.

But his grip on his craft was very firm. Some of his pieces, including the Sonate accademiche, were orginally composed not for the general public but for learned societies of music lovers. This was highly erudite music reminiscent of late Bach, but formal concerns and a “wild and flighty” quality coexist in the best of Veracini’s music.
“It is tempting to look for the bizarre in Veracini’s music and over-emphasise it", John Holloway remarks. "I think this would be to underestimate him. The quality of his music lies not only in the learned counterpoint, or in the outstanding writing for the violin: there is throughout a feeling for melody and harmony which display a remarkable and very personal expressivity.”