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Arcangelo CORELLI (1653 - 1713)
Twelve Sonatas for Violin and Continuo Instruments, Op. 5: Nos. 1-6 (1700)
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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Comparison Recording:
E. Wallfisch, R. Tunnicliffe, P. Nicholson. Hyperion CDA 66381

Ms. van Dael plays these wonderful works brilliantly and arrestingly. This is an unusual recording in that most interpreters play these works as trio sonatas with a basso continuo consisting of a cello or viola da gamba plus harpsichord, organ or lute, rather than a single solo continuo instrument as here. Either approach is historically correct, but the effect with more instruments is that one has some interplay among the personalities of the players which can add interest as well as providing a more complex sound. However Ms. van Dael manages to keep oneís full attention all by herself. She plays with great individuality and musicianship, properly embellishing and ornamenting her solo line, neither adding too much nor too little. The Wallfisch recording pays more attention to the details of period instruments and period performance style. Naturally, the ornamentation is individual with the artist and therefore different from van Daelís.

I have not cared for van Asperenís solo recordings but here he performs the role of continuo player in a completely exemplary manner providing full harmonic support for the solo line and at no time distracting us.

We are advised on the liner that this is a high resolution master recording and hence it may some day appear as a DVD-Audio. If you are a student of Corelli or early Baroque violin playing, you will certainly want both these recordings, but if you must choose, I would recommend the Wallfisch version as preferred, especially as it is a complete performance of the whole of Op. 5, including not only the Big Hit of the set, the La Folia variations as No. 12, but also an alternative version of No. 9; whereas the van Dael set so far encompasses only the first six with no indication yet from Naxos that the final six sonatas will be issued by these artists.

Paul Shoemaker

Emma Jones has also listened to this recording

Arcangelo Corelli's opus 5 was published in 1700 as a set of 12 'Sonate a Violino e Violone o Cimbalo'. According to the informative programme notes with this disc, there is some disagreement about whether the pieces were intended for violin and cello alone ('Violone') or for keyboard alone, ('o Cimbalo') or both, ('Violone o Cimbalo'; Cello and/or keyboard). The choice made by the present performers is based on the similarity of the present pieces to the developing 'Sonata da Chiesa' style. They perform with only keyboard instrument; in this case, Sonatas 1-3 with organ and the latter three with harpsichord. The decision seem apt, although the harpsichord supports the violin better in terms of timbre. It is less intrusive than the ultimately dull-sounding 8' flute of the chamber organ, and van Asperen's playing is not as pedestrian. The temperaments of both keyboard instruments is rather mild.

Lucy van Dael, (professor of baroque violin at the Amsterdam Conservatory and concertmaster of the 'Orchestra of the 18th Century') succeeds well in highlighting the harmonic line and rhythm of the music. This is especially subtly achieved in the sonatas with harpsichord, less so in the sonatas with organ. Her diminutions are mostly very beautiful, but sometimes, at their most extreme, they compromise the melodic line. Mention is made in the programme notes of early editions of the works containing notated ornamentation; to what extent van Dael draws on these is unclear. Tempi are very appropriate, the quicker movements are never played so fast (as with some Italian violinists) as to obscure van Dael's very focused articulation.

The booklet contains, as mentioned, worthwhile programme notes by Keith Anderson.

These are intelligent performances, and well worth buying, especially at budget price.

Emma Jones

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