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The Avison Ensemble - Corelli: Opus 2 & 4: Chamber Sonatas - BBC Music Magazine

01 November 2013
BBC Music Magazine
Kate Bolton
5 Stars

Corelli's Trio Sonatas were cited as ‘models of perfection' for decades after his death 300 years ago. They enjoyed particular success in early 18th-century England among the many dilettante instrumentalists, prompting Roger North to remark, ‘What a scratching of Corelli there is everywhere'. The Avison Ensemble continues the Anglo-Italian rapport - without a trace of ‘skratching' - in this project to record all of Corelli's instrumental works. The series so far has produced fine accounts of the Concerti Grossi Op. 6 and the Violin Sonatas Op. 5 (reviewed respectively in March and April).

The latest two-disc set features the Trio Sonata collections Opp. 2 and 4, kaleidoscopic works that mingle vigorous and elegant dances, hypnotic variations like the ‘Ciaconna' that concludes the Op. 2 set, ornamental slow movements, capricious Allegros and more series fugal writing. For all their stylistic variety, these works are characterised throughout by an exquisite finesse, apt for the papal court in which they were first heard.

The Avison Ensemble captures their essence in graceful, finely controlled performances - by turns lyrical, fleet, playful, imbued with an effortless style that eschews mannerisms and fireworks but rather lets the music speak for itself. The string sound is silky and clean; the ensemble neat and subtly articulated. With its potential for surround sound, Linn's airy recording suggests the spacious marble chambers and churches of Corelli's Rome.

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