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Early Music

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger



Arcangelo CORELLI (1653-1713)
Violin Sonatas Op.5 Nos. 1-6

Sonata No.1 in D major
Sonata No.2 in B flat major
Sonata No.3 in C major
Sonata No.4 in F major
Sonata No.5 in G minor
Sonata No.6 in A major
Lucy van Dael, violin; Bob van Asperen, harpsichord and organ
Recorded at Dutch Reformed Church, Bennebroek, Netherlands, 7 November 2002
Notes in English and Deutsch.
NAXOS 8.557165 [67.47]



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Corelli’s (essentially) sonata da chiesa Op.5 collection is one of the great sets of violin music written in the second half of the seventeenth century. The sonatas share rare imagination and a sense of fluid lyricism predicated on the stoutest of technical armouries. This is Manze territory and indeed his recording for Harmonia Mundi [907298.99] is a powerfully expressive one. This newcomer has to tackle, as do all entrants, the locus classicus of this kind of sonata – the slow introduction leading to the first moment of arresting individuality in the cadential passage, leading still onwards in succeeding movements to fugal writing and opportunities for suitable embellishments.

Van Dael and van Asperen are long time colleagues and have decided that in the first six of these sonatas (I’m assuming this is the first volume of two – there are twelve sonatas in Op.5) the accompanying instrument is often as not the organ. It’s only in the G minor and the A major that van Asperen switched to the harpsichord. For Manze Richard Egarr always plays the harpsichord. So there are immediately differences of approach and sonority in their approaches. Van Dael takes the second movement Allegro of the D major rather slowly, almost at an Allegretto the better, I suppose, to distinguish it from the following faster Allegro. And in the Adagio of the same sonata van Asperen takes great care over his registrations, as he is at pains to do elsewhere. Her phrasing and articulation in the Allegro of the B flat major is first rate and she’s not afraid to spin an expressive line. Maybe the concluding Giga of the C major is a mite on the slow side – but in fairness it is sensitively shaped. But I think it’s in the slow movements that van Dael proves such a worthy exponent, in the way for instance that she catches the desolate heart of the Adagio of the A major [No.6].

The recording isn’t quite ideal. There’s some ambient noise – and the organ’s action is audible in the slower music, and especially before the music quite begins. I wouldn’t place the Naxos pairing above Manze either in terms of technical accomplishment or recording but then Manze and Egarr are very special here.

Jonathan Woolf

see also review by Paul Shoemaker and Emma Jones



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