Fire Beneath My Fingers album cover

Fire Beneath My Fingers




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FIRE BENEATH MY FINGERS highlights “performers as composers.”

All of the composers featured on this program were first and foremost known as performers. Their concertos reflect their skills and experience as performers, and often were written for them to perform personally.

Sammartini was feted upon his death as “the finest performer on the hautboy in Europe,” and very likely wrote the piece featured here for his own use. The first movement reflects the album’s title, played with fire and zest. The slow movement allows Judith Linsenberg to gift the listener with a virtuosic cadenza and gorgeous ornamentation. And guest performer Michael McCraw, director of the Early Music Institute at Indiana University and world-renowned bassoonist, uses the bassoon concerto to show what his instrument is truly capable of in expert hands.   

Giuseppe Tartini was internationally renowned as a violinist, and much sought after as a violin teacher. His brilliant concertos are written to a very high standard, and prove difficult for many performers to deliver. Elizabeth Blumenstock performs these virtuosic pieces with technical assurance and panache. The ensemble makes the most of the sharp dynamic contrasts and dramatic changes of pace, particularly in a very expressive adagio movement.

Vivaldi’s pieces give us a different perspective. Although he too was a virtuosic violinist, the concertos here highlight the recorder and the bassoon.

Vivaldi served as both maestro de violini and maestro de concerti at the Ospedale della Pietà in Venice, (a combination convent, orphanage, and music school for orphans and abandoned girls), and wrote many of his concertos for the girls there. The French scholar-magistrate Charles de Brosses wrote that “they sing like angels and play the violin, the flute, the organ, the oboe, the cello, the bassoon: in short, there is no instrument so large that it makes them afraid of it.” The school’s performances were often attended by royalty and luminaries like Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

In this case, the concertos included do not only give us a time-traveling window onto Vivaldi’s own performance skills, but onto his teaching abilities, and the capabilities and lives of his well-trained and often virtuosic young students.

Recorded with remarkable clarity on period-accurate instruments, Fire Beneath My Fingers gives the listener the unique opportunity to travel back in time, and across continents, to hear these composers in a new light.


Listen to WFIU feature Fire Beneath My Fingers as their CD of the Week.



“This is one of the most exciting Baroque recordings I’ve heard in some time…. This Baroque group is considered one of the best in the world, and they deserve it…. Their standards of accuracy and virtuosity sound higher than most of the other early music ensembles which have received attention and popularity…. A magically fresh approach to Baroque works for certain!”

Audiophile Audition, 2008


“If you’re looking for a dynamic Baroque recording featuring virtuoso performers at the top of their game, this is it.”

— Minnesota Public Radio, April 15, 2008


“…A performance that would make me want to hear this group’s live concerts — or listen to its record again and again and again.”

— San Francisco Classical Voice


“This recording is a pleasure throughout… simply fantastic playing.”

American Recorder, November 2008


“Ravishingly beautiful… warm, expressive, and intensely alive to every nuance, this is playing to ravish the senses.”

Fanfare Magazine


“Musica Pacifica has established itself as one of the finest Baroque ensembles in the country.”

Early Music America, Fall 2008


“The concertos by Vivaldi are very fine pieces and are given splendid performances. The Concerto in F is played in a dramatic fashion, with strong dynamic accents.

“Therefore every recording of these brilliant [Tartini] concertos is very welcome, particularly when performed to such exalted standards as here by Elizabeth Blumenstock. The first movement is very virtuosic and played with technical assurance and panache by Ms Blumenstock.

“Sammartini’s recorder concerto receives a very good interpretation. The first movement is played with fire. In the slow movement Judith Linsenberg plays some beautiful ornaments and a virtuosic cadenza towards the end. In the bassoon concerto Michael McCraw gets and takes the opportunity to display the qualities of his instrument as well as his own capabilities as performer.

“I thoroughly enjoyed this disc. It contains first-rate music in very theatrical and technically brilliant performances.”

— Johan van Veen, MusicWeb International



Judith Linsenberg, recorder
Elizabeth Blumenstock, violin
Michael McCraw, bassoon
Robert Mealy, violin
Clarie Jolivet, violin
Peter Bucknell, viola
Josh Lee, double bass
Daniel Swenberg, theorbo, archlute, baroque guitar
Charles Sherman, harpsichord, organ



Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
Concerto in F major, after RV 98/570 “La Tempesta di Mare”
recorder, 2 violins, and continuo
1. Allegro
2. Largo
3. Presto

Giuseppe Sammartini (1695-1750)
Concerto in F major
soprano recorder, strings, and continuo
4. Allegro
5. [Siciliano]
6. Allegro assai

Sonata in A minor, RV 86
recorder, bassoon, and continuo
7. Largo
8. Allegro
9. Largo cantabile
10. Allegro molto

Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770)
Concerto in A major, D 91
violin, strings, and continuo
11. Allegro
12. Adagio
13. Presto

Concerto in G minor, RV 106

recorder, violin, bassoon, and continuo
14. [Allegro]
15. Largo
16. Allegro

Concerto in Bb major, RV 503

bassoon, strings, and continuo
17. Allegro non molto
18. Largo
19. Allegro