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Corelli: Violin Sonatas CD

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Composer: Arcangelo Corelli
  • Audio CD (10 Feb. 2003)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Harmonia Mundi
  • ASIN: B000076CW2
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 162,113 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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BBC Review

Arcangelo Corelli published Opus 5 on 1st January, 1700, his one and only set of violin sonatas, and arguably the finest and most influential ever assembled...all other baroque sonatas can be defined as being pre- or post-Corelli', says Andrew Manze as he begins his booklet note for this new recording. As you listen you realise he and Richard Egarr have put their money firmly where his mouth is: I've never been more persuaded of the greatness of these sonatas than I am here.

Why? What makes Manze and Egarr's approach so persuasive? Well, in many respects it's exactly the same qualities that have made their previous collaborations rewarding. This is a genuine musical partnership forged on stage in live performance, prepared to approach this repertoire as Corelli and his peers must surely have done with the spirit of improvisation uppermost in their minds and fingers. After all, he left only a bass line and the unadorned violin part, with no harmonies, figurations or ornamentation - baroque performers were supposed to have a modern jazzers ability to fill in the gaps, so every performance would have an imaginative spontaneity that's missing from most modern recordings.

Those old skills are hard to find, but Manze and Egarr have them in spades, sparring with one another, reacting lightening-fast to each other's ideas and imaginations, unleashing a wider range of tone colours than I've heard in these sonatas before. There's the quietest, querulous stroking of the string, with judiciously applied expressive vibrato to heighten the emotional weight of a phrase, and the most extrovert virtuosity: fleet fingers, Manze's swiftly darting bow, and dazzling ornamentation (especially from Egarr, whose sweeps and surges over the keyboard can be quite breathtaking). They eschew the Amsterdam edition of 1710, which came fully ornamented - an obvious shortcut for 21st century performers who haven't acquired the ability to improvise like this pair. As Manze puts it, 'reheating' these ornaments goes against the spirit of improvisation, and diametrically opposes the practices of the time: incarcerating the living music behind the glass of a museum display case.

Corelli's Sonatas have never felt more alive and less perfectly preserved than they do here, and if you care at all for the baroque repertoire or fine fiddle playing, you owe it to yourself to hear these exhilarating performances. Everything's come together for this one: repertoire, performers, recording, notes, even the perfect artwork for the cover. From the gentle questioning of the First Sonata's introduction to the insanely entertaining Follia variations at the end, this is a recording that will open ears and minds. I suspect some academics will hate this, but there's nothing academic about this music, dammit: just buy these CDs and have fun!

Like This? Try These:

JS Bach: Harpsichord Concertos (Richard Egarr)

Telemann: Chamber Music (Chandos Baroque Players)

Rameau: Nouvelles Suites (Alexandre Tharaud) --Andrew McGregor

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By Sid Nuncius #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 17 May 2011
Format: Audio CD
You may like to know that this excellent recording is now included in an excellent bargain 5-CD box set: Andrew Manze: The Art of the Violin
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Format: Audio CD
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.
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Format: Audio CD
I just love this recording. It has thousands of details, you need to slow down yourself to be able to fully appreciate them.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars 11 reviews
66 of 69 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars pure italian baroque 27 Aug. 2003
By drollere - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
this is really fine music. corelli is the paragon of the "italian" style of baroque (at least until vivaldi caught bach's attention), and these sonatas are perhaps finer than the italianate sonatas by handel. there is marvelous poetry and variety in these pieces, brought forward by the spare instrumentation of violin, bass and harpsichord, and everything is wrapped in corelli's creamy, effortless, halcyon musical world.
my reservation is that manze at times takes these pieces with a raspy vigor that is better left for tartini. the "folias" variations in particular, while tremendous fun and inspiringly ornamented, omit that key (and historically correct) baroque attribute known as decorum. the equally virtuosic recordings by elizabeth wallfisch have the edge on that point.
by the way, if you enjoy this recording, i strongly urge you to get corelli's magnificent concerti grossi, a true pinnacle in the form and one of the great achievements of baroque music.
45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating 2 Sept. 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I usually think of Corelli as nice "background music," pleasant, but without the emotional depth of Vivaldi, Bach or Handel. However, with this disc I find myself stopping and losing myself in the beautiful tones of Manze's baroque violin. The playing is superb and subtle, revealing these pieces as intimate and poetic. Harmonia Mundi's recording quality is excellent as well. Highly recommended. I can't wait to see what the venerable English Concert does under Manze's new leadership.
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music to delight the head--and heart 13 Sept. 2004
By A reader and a writer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Confession: I have never loved these sonatas. Respected them, yes, of course; but with a polite detachment that their exclusively intellectual and technical achievements seemed to merit.

Well, this album changed all that. It's a masterly performance, effortlessly virtuosic, that shows forth the music in all its lapidary clarity. More than that, though: it is also luminously expressive, replete with moments of such unadorned and lyrical tenderness that the heart opens up, amazed.

For those who think they know this music no less than those who know they do not, Manze and Egarr's achievement is an exquisite revelation.
31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What The Baroque Alone Can Do 15 Jan. 2006
By Avant-Captain_Nemo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
There's something in the greatest of baroque music that it alone can do - a kind of grace in suspended passion, angular sour biting lines that somehow are sweet without being sickly sweet, a mathematical precision that is not arid. It's all here in Arcangelo Corelli's great and generous gift to us all.

I think this music is best listened to on a night when one is physically ill or one is simply too spiritually ill to go much furthur without some sort of stroking of the soul. When played at such times Corelli asks nothing and gives everything - but what a sweet everything he gives!

Full of light and air, a transfiguration that is not heavy, a thoughtfulness that avoids the perils and pains of excessive introspection. There's a reason why people call this music humane and if you'd like to find out why purchase this double CD set and put it on when the burdens of your humanity are a bit too heavy.

What does the Book of Job tell us? That humans are born to trouble as the sparks fly. Here's music that's a true comfort for the likes of Job while he waits for the answers to his rightful questionings.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding musicality 13 July 2006
By Thomas Brantseg - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Like a lot of Italian High Baroque music, the scores for these sonatas are rather minimalist, and played strictly as written, these pieces can come across as drab harmony exercises. Manze and Egarr take the score as merely a starting point, in true High Baroque fashion, improvising with an impressive combination of stylistic accuracy, control, and passion that one virtually never hears in classical music.

The fire and immediacy of these performances is exceptional - the sheer joy of the gigue from the A major sonata (no. 9) is something that will stay with you for a while, and the floating, delicate lyricism they give to the slow movements is simply haunting.

I've always thought that Corelli was, with the exceptions of Bach and perhaps Scarlatti, the best composer of the Baroque era, and this set stands comfortably with Trevor Pinnock's magisterial set of the Op. 6 concerti grossi as proof.
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