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Arcangelo CORELLI (1653-1713)
Concerti Grossi Op.6
No.1 in D major [15.09]
No.2 in F major [10.10]
No.3 in C minor [10.47]
No.4 in D major [6.33]
No.5 in B flat major [10.37]
No.6 in F major [11.37]
No.7 in D major [8.39]
No.8 in G minor Christmas Concerto [13.25]
No.9 in F major [6.45]
No.10 in C major [8.19]
No.11 in B flat major [8.03]
No.12 in F major [8.25]
Daniel Guilet and Edwin Bachmann (solo violins) and Frank Miller (solo cello)
Corelli Tri-Centenary String Orchestra/Dean Eckertsen
Recorded 1953 on Vox
PRISTINE AUDIO PASC020 [63.52 + 53.11]

As with their restoration of an obscurely remembered Decca Brahms Quintet of the same vintage, Pristine Audio has the knack of tracking down some rare material. This Vox set was the first complete recording of the Op.6 concertos and as the name of the ad-hoc orchestra suggests was released in the year of the three hundredth birth of the composer. This represented quite an undertaking, especially in a market that had previously been able to sustain only a few recordings of the most famous, the G minor - otherwise known as the Christmas Concerto.

The orchestra may have been ad-hoc but the name of Daniel Guilet will be familiar, as will that of cellist Frank Miller. I wonder if Guiletís fellow violinist Edwin Bachmann was any relation to the violinist-encyclopaedist Alberto Bachmann who recorded for French Aerophone and wrote a celebrated book on the violin. Theyíre the only named players and they take their solo opportunities with commendable warmth.

Iíve not heard the original Vox set but this restoration seems to accentuate a bass heaviness that might well be endemic, though I should also note that itís a characteristic of Pristine Audioís restoration that they do this. These are otherwise warm-hearted, commendably affectionate readings that occasionally wallow in some deliciously old-fashioned and protracted rallentandi. One can hear this immediately in the second movement of the D major as one also hears the chugging basses under the melodic upper string line.

These are engaging performances with well-characterised solo and tutti string divisions; they cultivate a certain strong drama. The D major is especially buoyant in this respect and if the string clarity isnít quite as accomplished as the earlier and contemporary recordings of, say, the Boyd Neel Orchestra in their Handel and Bach recordings, or indeed the Busch Chamber Players, then the Vox has the merit of entering uniquely unchartered discographic waters in 1953. Listen for the diminuendi at repeated phrases in the F major [No.6] and one can hear intelligence deployed toward this material. Miller leads the cellos in the G minor with gravity and tonal allure and Dean Eckertsen sculpts the martial command of the D major adeptly as indeed he does throughout.

Iím sure collectors will like to be reminded of Eckertsenís pioneering work and these two CDs will give them cause to admire the production and the daring comprehensiveness of that ambition. Itís a pity the movements arenít individually tracked.

Jonathan Woolf



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