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Building A Library Recommended: 'Beznosiuk embraces this challenge and explores with gusto – Angel or Devil it’s all about drama.'
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The Avison Ensemble - Corelli: Opus 5 - Gramophone

01 April 2013
Julie Anne Sadie

Considering how important the Corelli Op 5 duo sonatas are in the history of violin playing, performances and recordings of these exquisitely crafted works are surprisingly rare. Andrew Manze and Richard Egarr released the last complete recording of note in 2003. Now it's the turn of the Avison Ensemble, with the solo violinist Pavlo Beznosiuk, to take up the challenge with this stylish new two-disc set.

Beznosiuk plays with enormous affinity and charm, his fluent and imaginative ornamentation always within the bounds of the pulse and good taste. Having chosen not to ornament the repeats slavishly, he retains the power to surprise and delight us even to the last sonata. In the opening Grave of the Sixth Sonata, he gradually increases the ornamentation over the course of the movement with great rhetorical effect (disc 1, tr 26); his own variations on the Gavotta of the 10th (disc 2, tr 16) are a breath of fresh air and more than stand comparison with those of Dubourg in the 11th (disc 2, tr 22). Beznosiuk makes the simplest line speak eloquently and knows how and when to use silence to good effect (disc 1, trs 11 and 19). His greatest achievement, however, may be to make us occasionally think we are actually listening to a trio sonata by exploiting the different timbres of his violin strings to create the sense of two violins duetting, most strikingly in the Sixth Sonata.

Corelli's 12 Op 5 Sonatas, da chiesa and da camera, have inspired musicians as far back as Eduard Melkus in 1973 (Archiv, 5/91 - nla) to experiment with the continuo forces in their recordings. Particularly evident throughout this recording is the exceptional rapport between the members of the Avison, though they only play all together in the Sixth Sonata. Roger Hamilton, alternating between the organ and the harpsichord, is particularly sympathetic in the Eighth. Cellist Richard Tunnicliffe ably ensures further moments of trio sonata texture (disc 1, tr 1; disc 2, trs 12, 19 and 28); and with Paula Chateauneuf, alternating between the archlute and guitar, he provides some of the most colourful collaborative effects (disc 2, trs 3, 4, 24 and 29). This is an immensely enjoyable release.

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Corelli: Opus 5: Violin SonatasCorelli: Opus 5: Violin Sonatas