The Avison Ensemble - Corelli: Opus 1 & 3 - Limelight Magazine
Some elegantly understated Corelli for the completist and many more.
Arcangelo Corelli was a surprisingly un-prolific composer; his reputation and influence was out of all proportion to the quantity of his output but it was a case of "never mind the length, feel the quality". His prodigious melodic invention with virtuosic flourishes and sensuous harmonic progressions are like a Bernini marble rendered in sound and his own playing made him the reigning superstar of the day and the darling of the Roman courts. The bulk of his work are the four dozen trio sonatas which set the mould for later composers, yet we have had surprisingly few good recordings in this flourishing era of Baroque-mania.
This set of the Church Sonatas is a follow up to The Avison Ensemble's set of Chamber Sonatas released last year and completes their much-welcome survey of Corelli's complete published works. This excellent group of veterans of the British early music scene led by Pavlo Beznosiuk deliver refined performances. The continuo is varied and colourful with cello supported by harpsichord, organ and archlute, yet is not distractingly busy and the two violinists, while lean-toned, blend nicely with impeccable intonation and transparent textures that allow the interplay of Corelli's part writing to come through clearly without obvious point-making. Tempi are sprightly and appropriate with crisp and buoyant rhythms that dance along.
There is a certain chaste reticence to these performances that emphasises the noble over the flamboyant, and while I've heard more sensuous performances the integrity of these recordings suit their purpose as a library reference. The scholarly but unpedantic documentation reinforces that impression. The recording is vibrant, if a little on the dry side, and up-front in the Linn tradition.