MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Buy through MusicWeb for £27.00 postage paid.
You may prefer to pay by Sterling cheque or Euro notes to avoid PayPal. Contact for details

Purchase button




Arcangelo CORELLI (1653-1713)
12 Sonate a Violino e Violone o Cimbalo Op. V CD 1
Sonata in D, Op. 5,1 [12:02]
Sonata in B flat, Op. 5,2 [10:23]
Sonata in C, Op. 5,3 [11:57]
Sonata in F, Op. 5,4 [10:31]
Sonata in g minor, Op. 5,5 [10:47]
Sonata in A, op. 5,6 [11:04] CD 2
Sonata in d minor, Op. 5,7 [08:44]
Sonata in e minor, Op. 5,8 [11:16]
Sonata in A, Op. 5,9 [11:23]
Sonata in F, Op. 5,10 [09:19]
Sonata in E, Op. 5,11 [07:59]
Sonata in d minor, Op. 5,12 'Follia' [11:05]
Stefano Montanari (violin)
Accademia Bizantina/Ottavio Dantone
rec. April, August 2002, Sala del Refettorio di S. Vitale, Ravenna, Italy
ARTS 47724-8 [65:33 + 59:23] 


"Few things seem today as obvious and uncontested in the history of music as the fact that Arcangelo Corelli was, for his contemporaries and successors alike, a 'model' of 'style' and 'classicism': this was affirmed by pupils, repeated by theorists and endorsed by historians and musicologists from Burney to Torchi, from Pincherle to Rinaldi". So wrote the Italian musicologist Franco Piperno. The number of editions of Corelli’s works are further evidence of his unique stature in the history of music. His op. 5, for instance, was first published in 1700 and appeared in 42 editions until the end of the 18th century. 'Balance' and 'good taste' are perhaps the most appropriate words to describe Corelli's style. According to Thomas Twining, son of a tea merchant from London and a great lover of music, Francesco Geminiani once described his teacher Corelli with these words: "... his merit was no depth of learning like that of Scarlatti nor great fancy, or rich invention either in melody or harmony; but nice ear, & most delicate taste, which led him to select the most pleasing harmonies & melodies, & to construct the parts so as to produce the most delightful effect upon the ear". It is perhaps this ideal of balance and good taste which was the reason he put so much time and effort into preparation for the printing of his own works. It is probably as a result of this that only five collections were published during his lifetime. The last series, 12 Concerti op. 6, appeared after his death. 

This picture of a man most concerned about balance and good taste is rather at odds with eyewitness accounts of his playing. One of these says: "I never met with any man that suffered his passions to hurry him away so much whilst he was playing on the violin as the famous Arcangelo Corelli, whose eyes will sometimes turn as red as fire; his countenance will be distorted, his eyeballs roll as in agony, and he gives in so much to what he is doing that he doth not look like the same man." This tells a lot about the difference between music as it was printed and the way it was actually performed. Even during his life editions of his op. 5 were published with added ornaments for the slow movements. Although there was some controversy about the claims that these ornaments had been written out by Corelli himself, there can be little doubt that the sonatas in their printed form are mere skeletons of the works as they were played by the composer. As was common practice in the 17th and 18th centuries, the addition of ornaments was left to the performer. The interpreters on this disc are well aware of this, and Stefano Montanari is not afraid of adding ornaments in abundance to both slow and fast movements. 

The description of Corelli's playing also suggests his works are meant to be expressive. The sonatas for violin and bc op. 5 are ample evidence of that. The very first sonata of the set immediately shows Corelli at his expressive best. It is a sequence of sections with contrasting tempo indications: grave, adagio, grave, allegro, adagio. Because of these striking contrasts this movement can be compared with the Italian keyboard toccata of the 17th century. This sonata and the five that follow belong to the genre of the 'sonata da chiesa', whose slow movements are mostly lyrical in character, whereas the fast movements are usually very virtuosic and contrapuntal. The second half of the set consists of 'sonate da camera', although the difference between the two halves isn't as big as one may expect. Some movements in the first half are dances in disguise, whereas some dances in the second half are actually adagios which are no less expressive than the slow movements in the first half. The split of this set into two parts is reflected by the scoring of the basso continuo: the 'sonate da chiesa' are performed with both organ and harpsichord, with additional strings (cello and violone) and lute, whereas in the 'sonate da camera' the basso continuo part is mostly realised by the harpsichord with a string bass only. 

The collection ends with a series of variations on the 'Follia', a chord progression connected to a melodic pattern which dates from the 16th century. It is here that Corelli reveals the full panorama of his virtuosity, and here one could well imagine him rolling his eyeballs in agony, as the anonymous observer quoted above wrote. It receives a splendid performance here, bringing to an end a recording which is simply brilliant. Stefano Montanari is a most exciting performer, who plays with warmth and passion. He doesn't hold back in bringing out both the expressive and the virtuosic aspects of Corelli's sonatas, without crossing the border of good taste. He gets excellent support from the members of the Accademia Bizantina. The recording engineer has done a brilliant job as well. 

This interpretation is the best I know, and certainly the most dramatic and exciting. I therefore strongly recommend this set, in particular to those who find Corelli's music just a bit boring. If this recording doesn't make them change their mind, nothing will. 

Johan van Veen


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing



Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.