The Avison Ensemble - Corelli: Opus 2 & 4: Chamber Sonatas - The Strad

Volume 3 of the Avison Ensemble's chamber music extravaganza commemorating the 300th anniversary of Corelli's death focuses on the 24 Chamber Sonatas Opp.2 and 4...

Violinists Pavlo Beznosiuk and Caroline Balding give poised, idiomatic and mostly unanimous accounts, matching each other like twins in passages of imitation and dialogue and pliant phrasing...Their tempos are generally well judged and they supply extempore ornamentation in tasteful doses. They revel in the suspensions and harmonic adventure of the preludios and capture the character of these sonatas' relatively conservative range of dances. Highlights for me include the 'Allemanda' of Op.2 No.10 with its trumpet-like fanfares, the imitative 'Corrente' of Op.4 No.2, the expressive 'Sarabanda' of Op.2 No.2, the rousing 'Gavotta' of Op.4 No.9 (with its resemblances to the penultimate movement of the composer's Christmas Concerto Op.6 No.8), the 'Ciaccona' of Op.2 No.12 and the countless lively gigas. Of those movements not inspired by dance, the intense 'Adagio' of Op.2 No.3, played here with only lute accompaniment, and the 'Grave' of Op.4 No.9 are especially effective.

Variation of textural colour is provided largely by ringing the continuo changes between the harpsichord, organ and archlute. Occasionally, too, the gamba is tacet or plays without continuo ‘filler'. Additional sonority is gained from adoption of late 17th-century Roman pitch (about a tone lower than modern pitch). The church recording has exemplary immediacy and presence.

The Strad
24 September 2013