Per Monsieur Pisendel
Johan Georg Pisendel may not be a household name in our own time but in the 18th century he was widely regarded as the foremost virtuoso violinist of his day. His abilities a performer led to his being appointed to the Dresden court orchestra, considered as the finest around, at the age of 25. A few years later he set out on what was to be the most formative experience of his whole career – a tour to Italy, where he studied with Vivaldi and made the acquaintance of Albinoni in Venice, and also worked with Antonio Montanari, then the finest violinist in Rome. He returned home with a huge quantity of sonatas by all three of these Italian masters and particularly by Vivaldi, whose music he revered. Other early influences include the Bolognese Giuseppe Torelli and Johann Sebastian Bach, who he met in Weimar. By the time he was 30, Pisendel was arguably the best-connected violinist in Europe.
Although Pisendel himself composed little, what there is shows a fascinating absorption of German, Italian and French styles. Most remarkable of all is the Sonata in A minor, a truly virtuoso piece which is said, not without justification, to have inspired Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin. It is given here in a quite breathtakingly effective performance by Adrian Chandler, whose effortless and stylish command of the writing brings Pisendel’s legendary abilities fully alive. This is undoubtedly the high point of this recording, notwithstanding the sensitive and beautifully wrought accounts of sonatas by Albinoni, Montanari and, of course, Vivaldi, which, as the title of the disc reveals, were written for him.