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Maestro Corelli's Violins
Giuseppe VALENTINI (1681-1753)
Concerto in A minor Op.7 No.11 [17.44]
Antonio MONTANARI (1676-1737)
Concerto in E major Op.1 No.7 [9.23]
Concerto in E flat major Op.1 No.6 [13.44]
Concerto in D minor Op.1 No.2 [5.13]
Giovanni MOSSI (c.1680-1742)
Concerto in E minor Op.4 No.11 [9.31]
Concerto in G minor Op.4 No.12 [13.20]
Collegium Musicum 90/Simon Standage
rec. All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, 19-22 August 2016

The title of the disc Maestro Corelli's Violins should not mislead one into expecting music by Corelli. He is present only as an influence. Apparently, on 8th April 1708, Corelli directed Handel's new oratorio La Resurrezione di Nostro Signor Gesł Cristo in the palace of Handel's patron, Marchese Ruspoli. For this Corelli gathered an enlarged orchestra. Amongst their number were three violinist composers: Valentini, Montanari and Mossi. Simon Standage has used that event as an excuse to record examples of their concerti.

The longest piece is the opening work, the Concerto by Valentini, which lasts almost eighteen minutes. His Op.7 set predates the supposed 'first' set of Concerti Grossi, Corelli's Op.6, by four years. The six movements encompass gypsy dances, jigs and fugues, and solos for every string player except the bassist. As the note by Richard Maunder suggests, the work is not 'suave and polished' in the way of Corelli. It is nevertheless really good listening, and sets the tone for the entire disc. Montanari has the lion's share with four concerti. These are attractive enough to make one wish to hear more of his music. Giovanni Mossi is likewise a valuable discovery.

As is so often the case, the works of the 'other' composers of the Italian Baroque, do not sound like slavish copies of the great names, but have flavours all their own. The astonishing range of invention in music of this period continues to be a joy for the listener and, so it seems, for the players. Simon Standage's long established group displays the high standards we expect, and sounds as though the four days spent recording the programme last year were days well spent. From the collector's point of view this programme, typically well recorded, presents excellent renderings of music one may well not have heard previously.

The disc booklet includes the following cryptic note on page 7: "Temperament: 'fifths tuned narrow until the thirds sound good'." As a non-player I was intrigued to discover from my friend Google that this is effectively an explanation for all that harpsichord tuning that goes on before period performances start. I rapidly learned more than I expected about circles of fifths and how the gaps need adjusting to make sure the resulting tuning does not leave the thirds sounding horrid. I am sure you, the reader, knew that, but I didn't.

Dave Billinge



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