LSO and Apple Music have released “A New Dawn” a powerful collection of familiar and lesser-known works, featuring the star violinist Francesco Dego in Bologne’s Concerto Op.5 no.2 in A major, which was featured as Gramophone’s video of the day earlier this week.
For Francesca, Bologne’s music is a fairly recent discovery. “When first introduced to his music a few years ago I was shocked by the fact I had never even read about him before, considering he is clearly one of the great violin virtuosos of all time,” she comments. “Getting to know a composer you’re not familiar with is like meeting a new friend, which can feel a bit awkward at first, going through phases of curiosity, then building trust right to the moment you can finally smile and laugh together.”
Bologne was a contemporary of Mozart, and the elegant, tuneful style the two shared makes comparisons between them inevitable. “Both composers are profoundly theatrical, both are inspired by the great Italian tradition, but in very personal ways and with distinct voices,” Dego says. “But whereas Mozart concentrates entirely on musical content, turning each instrument into the means to a perfect end, Bologne keeps a very firm grip on the showy aspect of violin-playing, making technical command a key to expression. In Bologne I feel like each note is gushing with the golden magnificence of the Baroque era, neatly stitched into the Apollonian perfection of Classicism.”
Bologne was by all accounts a dazzling violinist, and liked showing off the technical tricks he could perform in his music. “The fast movements in the A major Concerto (the opening Allegro and final Rondeau) are nimble and wildly dangerous when they climb and jump up the fingerboard to unchartered heights,” Dego explains. “Bologne uses thirds, sixths and even tenths, every possible kind of scale and arpeggio, and intricate bow effects that are extremely rare in the music of his contemporaries.”