While recognizing the first set of compositions designed to truly extend and test the technical limits of the violin, the 24 Caprices of Niccolo Paganini spring almost immediately to mind. It is inte- resting then to realize that almost half a century before Paganini was even born, the Italian composer and virtuoso Pietro Antonio Locatelli could be found pushing the boundaries of violin playing to its limits with his concertos Opus 3: L’Arte del Violino.
In his music, Locatelli pushes the boundaries of the violin techni- que with an unprecedented virtuoso and at times romantic vision. The frequent use of exceptional high positions on the violin, many daredevil antics in the left hand including double stops and ex- tended stretches, and the exploration of hitherto rarely used bow techniques, makes him a true pioneer for the violin and the deve- lopment of violin technique in general.
Despite his obvious fascination for virtuosity, Locatelli ensures that one is captivated first and foremost by charming original me- lodies and bold characterization. His music never develops into a tour de force but remains sympathetic to both the listener and the performer.