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Giovanni Giornovich, known across Europe by about thirty variants of his family name, among which one finds Jarnowick, Jarnovich, Zarnowitty and a crop of others, was born on 26 October 1747 on a ship near Ragusa, as he claimed. Although he never set foot in Croatia, it is strongly presumed that he was of Croatian descent. Strangely enough he never had any kind of connection with that country, indeed, he was probably a French citizen, and his fame rested on his natural ability to play the violin. He was one of the most prominent and popular virtuosos of the second half of the eighteenth century, giving concerts in Paris, London, Vienna, Berlin, Dublin, Stockholm, Copenhagen and St Petersburg, where he actually died in 1804.
His importance can be gauged by the fact that he was one of a group of renowned musicians that welcomed Haydn to London in January 1791, when the eminent master was on his first visit to the English capital on an invitation of the impresario J P Salomon. The Violin Concerto was central to his composing endeavours, and his surviving output in this genre encompasses some seventeen printed works. Giornovich also wrote some chamber music, mostly Airs variés, which he probably performed as encores during his concerts.
The form and structure of his concerts are very reminiscent of the late eighteenth century style, and prevailingly they are in three movements. The first movements are always of an early classical sonata form type.
Listen — Giornovich: Allegro vivace (Concerto No 15 in E)
(track 1, 2:57-3:46) © 2019 Delphian Records Ltd :
Middle sections are often romances (a sort of vocal form introduced by Giornovich himself) with clear and simple melodic lines.
Listen — Giornovich: Romance: Andantino (Concerto No 13 in A)
(track 6, 1:25-2:14) © 2019 Delphian Records Ltd :
The last movements are invariably brilliant and playful 'rondeaus' in French style, with some popular or folk-tune thrown in for good measure.
Listen — Giornovich: Rondeau à la russe (Concerto No 14 in A)
(track 11, 6:07-7:06) © 2019 Delphian Records Ltd :
Giornovich's birth and early years are indeed shrouded in mystery, but even more baffling is why these concertos, full of charm, wit and character, should have waited so long to be recorded.
Bojan Čičić has this repertoire in his blood, and this shows in performances of exhilarating beauty. Indeed, his readings are consistently sophisticated and he never pushes things beyond what is really necessary to bring out the many gentle nuances of these pieces. The softly glowing Illyria Consort give sympathetic support. A thrilling musical discovery in superb sound quality and enriching annotations.
Copyright © 19 April 2019
CD INFORMATION: GIOVANNI GIORNOVICH: LONDON CONCERTOS