Giuseppe Torelli (1658-1709) is today best known for his concertos for strings, in which genre he was a pioneer, and for his music with solo trumpet. In his own day, however, he was equally productive as a composer for small-scale ensembles, which is to say primarily of sonatas. A little-known manuscript in the British Library contains three single-movement duets for two violins by him that on one hand look back to the long tradition in Italy of the didactic duet, which originated in the Renaissance, and on the other hand prefigure the full-length sonatas for two treble instruments without bass written by Vivaldi, Tessarini, Telemann, Leclair, Boismortier and many others. The first two duets resemble in structure and texture Bach's Two-Part Inventions (except that in the latter the two parts occupy different registers), while the third is an exhilarating moto perpetuo for each of the instruments (Violin 1 plays quavers, Violin 2 semiquavers).
These will be found excellent pieces for violinists to study and play with their teachers, and are also well suited to recital programmes (they will make marvellous encores!). They reflect their composer's activity as a teacher and perhaps also his Wanderjahre in Germany as an itinerant virtuoso during the short period when the orchestra of the Bolognese church of San Petronio, of which he was a leading member, was suspended.