The Avison Ensemble - Corelli: Opus 2 & 4: Chamber Sonatas - American Record Guide

Whether in the eighteenth or twenty-first centuries, Arcangelo Corelli has always supplied a standard for performers. There is little room in his compositions for sloppy interpretations...Over the years, period instrument performers have made integral sets of the trio sonatas: London Baroque (Sept/Oct 1991), the Purcell Quartet (Jan/Feb 1992 & May/June 1993), and the 'complete' recordings of Corelli's works by Accademia Bizantina (Mar/Apr 1991) and Musica Amphion (Nov/Dec 2005), All include the Opera 2 and 4 trio sonatas, and have all been favorably received.

What The Avison Ensemble offers in this new release is a new gold standard for Corelli performance. I own all of the above recordings but one, and they are all very good. The violinists of The Avison Ensemble, Pavlo Beznosiuk and Caroline Balding, take these works to a new and richer level. Every time I've listened to this new release I hear nuances and phrases that demonstrate for me a much more innate understanding of Corelli's musical language than I have heard in earlier performances.

Another plus to this performance is the elegant and inventive continuo players (Richard Tunnicliffe, vc; Paula Chateauneuf, archlute; Roger Hamilton, hpsi and org). Also, forget what you were taught in music history: trio sonatas do not have to be performed by four musicians. The original edition, with only three parts, stated that the bass was intended for 'violone or harpsichord', and on this recording you will hear almost every permutation and combination among the three continuo players with the two violins, including a beautiful performance of Op. 4: 5 with only archlute.

The Avison Ensemble's previous recordings of Corelli have drawn positive notices. Ardella Crawford wrote of the Opus 5 (Sept/Oct 2013) that it was 'one of the more reliable renditions', and the Opus 6 concertos were given unreserved recommendation (Mar/Apr 2013). This new release is perhaps the best recording of Corelli trio sonatas to date; it makes me eager for their release of Opera 1 and 3. I would also commend Linn and its engineers on the superb sound.

12 March 2014