Corelli was highly
regarded as a violinist in his day,
his techniques and styles emulated by
many of his more prolific successors
such as Vivaldi and even Bach and Handel.
He spent the majority of his career
in the service of well-to-do clergymen.
Much of his compositional output has
apparently been lost, as there is a
relatively small body of his work available
to us now.
These sonatas, the
first half of a set of twelve stand
at a sort of crossroads in style and
practice, and seem to begin the metamorphosis
from the six movement dance suites common
in France to the three movement fast-slow-fast
arrangement that later composers would
come to adopt. At five movements each,
only the final section of each work
has an obvious holdover from the dance
suites with their gigue-like rhythms.
There is some controversy
as to whether a third instrument is
called for (cello, bassoon or other
continuo player) and the original published
scores seem to indicate that the works
could be played by a combination of
cello and violin, with the cellist filling
in chords via double stops, or the more
likely solution, which is to use a keyboard
instrument without the extra reinforcement.
Crafted in the sonata di chiesa (church
sonata) mode, these works are performed
here sometimes with organ, and sometimes
The renditions are
really quite fine. Ms. Van Dael produces
a warm tone on her period violin (maker
sadly not listed), a trait sometimes
missing from period solo performances.
She is also not afraid of some overt
expressiveness in her playing, and the
understated but quite welcome use of
rubato from time to time was most refreshing
to hear. She is fleet of finger, and
her allegri are clean and clear, never
rushed. She also applies just the right
amount of messa da voce (that
ever present hairpin swelling on long
notes) to make the slow movements expressive
while avoiding the inducement of motion
I must halt here though
to do my duty in pointing out that Ms.
Van Dael is one of the notorious sniffer-snorters,
those well meaning but aurally obnoxious
players that have to tell us just how
musical they are by inhaling audibly
at every opportunity. I have promised
that I will carp on this habit until
it is eradicated from all string playing,
so here it is. It sounds awful, it is
pretentious and not artistic and I hate
it with a passion. Please stop.
Mr. van Asperen is
a splendid partner to these proceedings
with utterly elegant playing at every
turn. His continuo realizations are
full-throated and well-balanced and
everything he does in the way of ornamentation
is in splendidly good taste.
Keith Anderson provides
an interesting program essay with the
proper balance of anecdote and analysis.
In all this is a fine
performance, and it is well worth the
investment, hay fever and all. We can
look forward with anticipation to the
second volume, which is surely forthcoming.