1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 June 2011
I imagine this set of Corelli's Violin Sonatas, op. 5, published in 1700, will divide most people. Whilst offering an almost definitive account of pieces to play for violin, they can also appear to be complacent. (`the reason perhaps lies in the contrast between the music's appearance on the page [elegant, perfect, bland, formulaic] and its unparalleled celebrity in the eighteenth century.) This, however, is not true. Corelli's art, along with Bach's, is some of the most subtle, refined and masterly music from the C18th. When I first heard the concerto grosso of Corelli, I thought I was underwhelmed, but once you have understood the intention of the composer, this music is brilliant, and subtle in ways which normally do not occur even in the greatest composers. It is the kind of music which has so many layers that you find something new and intriguing upon each listen. But this is not flashy music: it is rare, dignified and expertly controlled. In fact, I would nickname it something along the lines of the well tempered violin!
The violin was Corelli's instrument, and here we have his magnum opus, a personal testament, for that style which he became famous for, and indeed infamous, as witnesses describe his rolling eyes as he played, thinking him to be mad. It seems all compositions for violin appearing after these works owe them a rather large debt.
However, such anecdotes merely seem to reinforce the idea of a very passionate man indeed. And the violin sonatas seem to capture this flame of harmony: Manze, the magical violinist delivering this set, called them `arguably the finest and most influential ever assembled'. Yet, unless the composer *was* a violinist first and foremost it is unwise to judge his skills on projected violin sonatas alone. However, this, here, seems justifiable. And the product does not disappoint, as these are excellent works, played with feeling and imagination. Manze and Egarr do indeed spar with one another to generate a grande rapport between the violin and harpsichord.
Endlessly spun slow harmonies dominate here. Let the music wash over you and seek the nooks and crannies which made this exploration of the violin so great.