Geminiani - Alison McGillivray - The Strad

Alison McGillivray is an imaginative and stylish interpreter of Geminiani's six cello sonatas op. 5. She acknowledges both their lavish French sonority and gesture, as in the Andante of no.2, and their fluid Italianate expressiveness, as demonstrated by her treatment of the numerous appoggiaturas and her addition of subtle but affecting extempore ornamentation. Elsewhere her expressive language is more dramatic, as in the recitative-like opening of the Adagio of no.5 and the sharply contrasted opening pair of movements of no.4. Overall, she surmounts the technical challenges of rapid cross-string passages, wide leaps and multiple-stopping with remarkable facility and negotiates the various interpretative problems with level-headed musicianship. Every note sounds weighted, balanced and tastefully allotted its place in the scheme of things without loss of spontaneity.

Jospeh Crouch plays an important part in the melodic dialogue, his cello line often crossing McGillivray's with splendidly sonorous results, as in the middle section of the finale of no.6. Sound and texture are varied by using either Baroque guitar or harpsichord, or both, as continuo harmony instruments. The reasoning behind this is unexplained, but the movements with guitar turn out somewhat more relaxed, thanks as much to Eligio Quinteiro's subtlety of expression as to his sweet-toned instrument.

David McGuinness contributes some additional fare in the form of Geminiani's own reworkings for solo harpsichord of movements from his opp. 1,4 and 5 sonatas. The recorded sound is exemplary and the two cellos are clearly differentiated. Crouch seems appreciably more distant than McGillivray, yet suitably integrated with his continuo colleagues.

01 January 2006