There’s a twinkle in the eye of the violin in Pandolfi’s sonatas. He teases, provokes, confuses – then bursts out laughing. An impish laugh, part-threatening, part-joyful. Now, he plays the notes measuredly, mathematically, in deference to the accompanying continuo, and now he runs away, flies, does somersaults, walks upside down on the ceiling. The violin plays by the rules of music and nature, then breaks free into a frenzy of sobs and curses before running at you and covering you with kisses. And, as he kisses, he gives you a light bite. He fears if he stops surprising you, he will die.
There is something discontented in Pandolfi’s violin sonatas. Unhinged. Perhaps a trace of madness. The kind of madness that borders on genius. Fierce intelligence that can never be satisfied with keeping still. An inquisitive mind that screams Why? Why? Why? Why? and only uses every received answer to generate thousands more Why?s. A spirit that knows too much to be calm but not enough to find peace. Not yet.
He’s easily bored. His attention wanders and he entertains himself with endless variations on the theme he is ordered to play. Ordered. This violin resents orders, so he follows them with histrionic hysteria, gasping for air, for novelty, for a purpose.
Pandolfi’s violin is a chameleon, a shapeshifter. He is fire, he is air, he is a fountain glistening in the sun, and the ambiguous smile of a gibbous moon. He can turn on a sixpence, from a scratch to a caress.
This violin has an artistic temperament.
He is moody.
(Please listen to Giovanni Antonio Pandolfi Mealli’s Sonatas for Violin and Continuo)