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  • Corelli Church Sonatas Opp. 1 & 3 reviews | Avison Ensemble
    there s nothing showy or ostentatious about its use of ornamentation it always seems genuinely spontaneous That registers in virtually every slow movement but these performances are also firmly rooted in period scholarship too Beznosiuk must have read Georg Muffat s instructional guide on how to play these pieces The opening movements are nearly always interspersed with sudden slower interjections and these were says Muffat David Ponsford Nimbus a student of Corelli s incidentally to be played fulsomely and dramatically In the opening Sonatas and Fugues and in the affecting Graves that are interpolated the Italian manner is to be chiefly observed those experienced in this art will readily understand this As for rival performances the only serious competition here is the excellent Chandos Chaconne survey by the Purcell Quartet which brings much fine playing though tempos are less extreme in fast sections while recorded sound is brightly focused and clear but lacks the spatial realism of Linn s production Jakob Lindberg s authoritative playing on both theorbo and archlute adds an extra dimension to the continuo s tonal palette and this set has long been a strong contender here On balance though I prefer the Avison s more spontaneous and vital approach which never lets historical or stylistic correctness obstruct enjoyment of the music There remains Enrico Gatti s patchy and uneven recording on Tactus with the Ensemble Aurora Though decently recorded these accounts seem four square and uninspired beside the Avison performances which must now be the natural first choice here The last word however belongs to Roger North who memorably described these works as a true pantomime or resemblance of humanity in all its states actions passions and affections He could just as easily have been describing these mesmerizing performances themselves there is none better MusicWeb International A real sense of enjoyment in the music and in their music making This results in very fine performances indeed Stuart Sillitoe January 2015 When you consider the important position occupied by the Op 1 Sonate a trè or church sonatas in the development of the trio sonata you would think that there would be more recordings of them After all Christopher Hogwood described them as the most influential single source of the whole period a central reference point for all discussion of the trio sonata The Trio Sonata 1979 That being said there are a few complete recordings of Op 1 all of which give these works the title Sonate da chiesa This is despite the fact that Corelli himself never described them as church sonatas The epithet seems to be down to Corelli including an organ amongst the continuo instruments This has led to many thinking that these were for use during the Mass Whilst they would sit nicely during the service it is known that they were composed for performance at the residence of their dedicatee Christina the former Queen of Sweden She in turn is known to have had two organs in her music salon where she held musical evenings Whatever the case Corelli who was thought of as the finest violinist in Italy at the time of publication built on what had gone before He produced the seminal set of trio sonatas those which came to be seen as the model for those that followed Most of the twelve sonatas are composed with four movements with a slow fast slow fast structure To have eight out of the twelve composed in this manner whilst not unique was something new Only numbers 4 7 9 and 10 deviated from this pattern If the Op 1 works are seen as the all important first fruits of Corelli s da chiesa compositional genius the Op 3 group have come to be seen as the apogee with the excellent booklet notes quoting Sir John Hawkins who in 1776 stated that the Opus 1 were an essay towards the perfection to which he afterwards arrived the perfection being these later sonatas One can trace the composer s progression with these sonatas of 1689 being the high water mark Corelli s perfection as discussed by Hawkins Their spirit of adventure and artistic development mark them out as the composer s finest trio sonatas I even prefer them to his much praised Op 4 I find myself having to agree with Hawkins when it comes to the concept of perfection Despite this when it comes to recordings they have only fared a little better than Op 1 Perhaps it is the term church sonatas which puts the recording companies off All I know is that with music like this more converts should be won over whether or not religious My benchmark has been the exceptionally fine recording of the first four opuses by The Purcell Quartet and Jakob Lindberg on Chandos CHAN 0692 However these new recordings which like the Purcells employ a cello rather than the prescribed violone or bass violin has a slight edge over their predecessor The Avison Ensemble adopts a slightly more relaxed tempo than the Purcells but there is not that much difference in the overall timings about five minutes per disc longer This leads to more time to take in the music I particularly enjoy the interplay between the performers on this new recording There seems a real sense of enjoyment in the music and in their music making This results in very fine performances indeed ones with which I find it very hard to fault Add to this the excellent sound quality something of a given with Linn and the wonderfully helpful and informative booklet essay by Simon D I Fleming and you are on to a real winner I have even been tempted to order Linn s Opp 2 and 4 chamber sonatas set This disc takes its place alongside the Avison s other discs in Linn s complete chamber music series Opp 2 and 4 CKD 413 Op 5 Violin Sonatas CKD 412 and Op 6 Concerti Grossi CKD 411 MusicWeb International Another

    Original URL path: http://www.avisonensemble.com/the-ensemble/corellichurchsonatas.html (2016-02-10)
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  • Corelli Chamber Sonatas Opp. 2 & 4 reviews | Avison Ensemble
    CD Review Andrew McGregor and Simon Heighes 5 October 2013 Corelli was a modest guy He was not a flash fiddler He was a chamber he was a team player rather than a fabulous soloist And there is a sense in which the Avison Ensemble have picked up on that I find although we started with a dance which was nicely ornamented the Avison Ensemble leave it pretty plain on the whole It s all about gestures it s all about line all about simple textures there s not too much complication here and it s all very gentle I really like it they re tapping into this 18th century Georgian way of playing Corelli where if you wanted to get into a concert you brought your violin or cello along and you played because Corelli was simple enough for everyone to enjoy and for everyone to sight read And of course they became so well known everyone knew them anyway And there is a sense in which the Avison Ensemble really do bring that back I think it s this kind of English love for the simplicity of the music They re not over complicating it The Avison Ensemble are very respectful they don t apologise for the simplicity of the music We don t want too many extraneous improvisations that we have to listen to time and time again It is very beautiful A lovely recording as well Beautiful Very clear Absolutely transparent AllMusic com the virtues of the Avison group are once again on full display here the players achieve a sparkling liveliness that few other groups seem to manage with period strings James Manheim 09 September 2013 The ongoing recordings of Arcangelo Corelli s music by the Avison Ensemble and Ukrainian British violinist leader Pavlo Beznosiuk all have something to recommend them With this double disc set the group covers Corelli s two published sets of chamber sonatas a direct translation of the Italian sonate da camera The term denoted a suite like structure of multiple short dances or other binary movements rather than a specific set of forces Corelli himself published them as sonate a tre or sonatas for three instruments The booklet notes by Simon D I Fleming here go to great lengths to justify performance with four instruments as doubtless occurred often in the 18th century What you get here however is something else performance with five instruments the violins of Beznosiuk and Caroline Balding plus cello archlute and harpsichord or organ This is a very big and active continuo group and its presence is further heightened by the improvisatory fills of all the players especially cellist Richard Tunnicliffe This is not right or wrong although it seems a bit daring in music specifically designated as being for three instruments The effect is to push the music in the direction of a chamber group for equals rather than a dialogue of two soloists And Corelli was nothing if not a soloistic composer You

    Original URL path: http://www.avisonensemble.com/the-ensemble/corellichambersonatas.html (2016-02-10)
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  • Charles Avison - Concerti Grossi Opp. 9 & 10 reviews | Avison Ensemble
    many under a minute long is of urbane charm fluent melody and purposeful harmony but no one concerto imprints itself on the memory for long They are nonetheless attractive now as they were for audiences at Avison s regular subscription concerts in the Newcastle Assembly Rooms American Record Guide Beznosiuk gives these concertos excellent treatment Sound is very good This is a high quality recording of some obscure music Crawford Here is Pavlo Beznosiuk s latest entry in his project to record all of the published and some of the unpublished music of Charles Avison He has already done two sets of Avison s violin concertos for Naxos the Opus 3 and 4 concertos and the Opus 6 The concertos on this new release seem not available in any other recording and even Avison s 12 concertos after Domenico Scarlatti are available in only two recordings A great deal of interest was stimulated in Avison a few years ago when a good sized stash of his music was discovered in the back of a cupboard in an English house Gordon Dixon who made the discovery then founded the Avison Ensemble to take up the work of the neglected British composer Avison fairly well known in the 18 th Century is not first rate and I don t suppose anyone pretends that he is Nonetheless his work is fresh and listenable and the effort to record his music is entirely worthy The 12 concertos of Opus 9 were originally published in two sets of six the first appearing in 1766 and the second in 1767 Avison intended them to be flexible they could be performed on a variety of instruments as solo keyboard pieces or as quartets Corelli is the biggest influence they are composed with the Corellian four movements rather than the Vivaldian three Beznosiuk probably needs no introduction to collectors of early music as he has been active in various early music groups for a long time most notably with the Academy of Ancient Music the Hanover Band and the Parley of Instruments He gives these concertos excellent treatment Sound is very good This is a high quality recording of some obscure music Classical Source These are exceptionally stylish period performances and are ideal ambassadors for the promotion of this neglected composer Antony Hodgson The Concerto grosso has a long and respectable reputation as a musical genre and Simon D I Fleming s booklet note very properly describes the nature of the music pointing out the durability of this type of composition I found his reminder that Concerti grossi were still being published as late as the nineteenth century to be somewhat intriguing I suppose the first name to spring to mind when the term Concerto grosso is used would be Handel but although Charles Avison 1709 1770 was barely a generation younger there is little resemblance to the style of the great Anglo German master indeed even the earliest of the works in this set the first half dozen of Opus 9 were not composed until six or seven years after Handel s death At this time music was changing Haydn was writing his early symphonies and music was flourishing in European courts At Mannheim for example the so called classical style flourished relatively early but by contrast Avison is sometimes said both in Fleming s notes and by other commentators to have been influenced by Corelli born half a century earlier On first hearing these works I caught elements of Geminiani a pupil of Corelli and it has been surmised that Avison could also have been Geminiani s pupil None of this seems to have lead to any great advancement of style it seems that the Baroque format sufficed for Avison True the melodies are less Baroque than those of Handel but they do not seem to advance much further than those of say Avison s exact contemporary John Stanley who was born in 1712 Another reason could be that Avison lived and died in Newcastle and perhaps because of the increasing importance of that then town he felt no great need to involve himself in the lively musical life of London where new musical styles were beginning to evolve Within the generous ration of concerti provided in these two sets of opus numbers it is difficult to detect any great difference in style between the earlier and the later compositions Basically the normal slow fast slow fast pattern of the Concerto grosso is held to although there are three exceptions the F major work from Opus 9 has a central Fugue and a final Aria the Fourth of the Opus 10 set has five movements the final rapid Gavot sounding rather like a classical Allegro of a later period in fact this movement is unlike any other in the whole set and the following work has just three movements In terms of performance the Avison Ensemble is superbly unified Not surprisingly several other of its recordings are mentioned in Divine Art s very well presented annotation Pavlo Beznosiuk leads with confidence he is not afraid to add occasional decorations but these are not intrusive and never interrupt the melodic line In all these are exceptionally stylish period performances by musicians in tune with Avison s philosophy and are ideal ambassadors for the promotion of this neglected composer Divine Art must be commended for promoting rarely heard 18th century composers an admirable activity but it can involve commercial risk The nature of the recording influences the impression given by the music itself The acoustic of the venue is very suitable the string quality has attractive warmth and there is no undue highlighting of the leader The eleven players sound full bodied but after a while I became concerned about the narrow dynamic range which seems to stay entirely between mezzo piano and mezzo forte add to this the harpsichord being buried deeply within the texture and an element of sameness begins to develop Harpsichord continuo should enrich

    Original URL path: http://www.avisonensemble.com/the-ensemble/avisonconcertigrossi9-10.html (2016-02-10)
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  • Charles Avison - Concerti Grossi after Geminiani reviews | Avison Ensemble
    also feature some wonderfully articulate cello playing not directly credited but presumably by Richard Tunnicliffe The sound quality is superb too capturing the supportive but never overbearing acoustic of the Jubilee Theatre in Newcastle Allmusic These are first rate eighteenth century concerti grossi and the Avison Ensemble plays them in a relaxed very easygoing fashion Dave Lewis Charles Avison was one of the most significant figures in eighteenth century English music though his reputation has suffered owing to the prominence of Handel during his time and that his most famous work is the 12 Concerto Grossi arranged after various movements of Domenico Scarlatti Although the orchestration manner of arrangement and even the addition of several non Scarlatti movements confirm this set as an original effort on Avison s part Scarlatti is nevertheless the one who benefits from its fame The Avison Ensemble was founded in the 1990s spurred on by a cache of newly discovered Avison manuscripts however the group got a real boost with the further discovery in 2000 and 2002 of Avison s personal workbooks containing over 600 pages of music by Avison and others They have developed a new rubric for Avison the greatest English composer of orchestral concertos and additionally it should be mentioned that Avison remained a stalwart of Baroque instrumental style long after domesticity and the Classic moved the Baroque out of the mainstream Indeed Newcastle based Charles Avison may have been the Baroque s last outpost From the workbooks come Avison s arrangements into Concerti Grossi of Francesco Geminiani s Op 1 Violin Sonatas The chain of musical recycling here is perilously deep Geminiani himself was best known during his lifetime for his arrangements of Corelli s violin sonatas into Concerti Grossi Avison had studied with Geminiani and remained a lifelong friend of the composer an Italian who plied his entire musical trade in England Although cellist Gordon Dixon was the founder of the Avison Ensemble and served as executive producer of Divine Art s Charles Avison 12 Concerti Grossi after Geminiani s sonatas violinist Pavlo Beznosiuk leads the group and is its principal soloist Beznosiuk will be remembered for his work with the Parley of Instruments the Academy of Ancient Music and many other period groups for this project Beznosiuk has also contributed a complementary Sonata No 11 as Avison himself seems not to have gotten around to arranging that one for his typical seven part ensemble The difference between Beznosiuk s work and Avison s is minimal indeed if apparent at all Beznosiuk is strongly dedicated to the Avison Ensemble and to the composer after whom it is named he has decided to record all of Avison s instrumental music in addition to some selected pieces from never heard composers that Avison documented such as Englishman John Garth As to this Divine Art recording it is apparent from the first note that these are first rate eighteenth century concerti grossi and the Avison Ensemble plays them in a relaxed very easygoing fashion It is pleasant but ultimately one wants the music to take wing as the potential seems to be there in Avison s score However it never does the pace while never rigid never really takes off and slow movements tend to register with a bit more import than the allegros and there are far more allegros than there are other kinds of movements Nevertheless this is a worthy undertaking that whets one s appetite for what might be in store with future instalments of the Avison Ensemble s traversal of the work of its namesake Musicweb This set of concerti grossi is an important discovery Johan van Veen It still happens now and then that music manuscripts are discovered Sometimes they contain music which is known to have existed and somehow has gone missing Sometimes these manuscripts contain music which was hitherto completely unknown That is the case with the Concerti grossi by Charles Avison recorded here We know he arranged keyboard sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti as concerti grossi and we also know about his admiration for Francesco Geminiani But nobody knew that Avison also arranged violin sonatas by his hero as concerti grossi They were discovered in the second of two of Avison s workbooks that suddenly appeared in the years 2000 and 2002 respectively Consisting of more than 600 pages of music hidden from view for over two centuries these two books add significantly to Avison s repertoire and reputation Mark Kroll writes in the programme notes Francesco Geminiani was born in 1687 in Lucca and probably received his first musical education from his father who was a violinist It is assumed that among his later teachers were Corelli and Alessandro Scarlatti but although he is thought to have been in Rome from 1704 to 1706 there is no firm evidence for this That he was close to Arcangelo Corelli is a fact since in the foreword to A Treatise of Good Taste in the Art of Musick which was published in 1749 he refers to discussions with Corelli about his music In 1714 he left Italy for England probably because he didn t see any real chance of a career either in Rome or in Naples where he also spent some time And as England had attracted other musicians from Italy before it was a logical choice to try to find employment there In England he found fertile soil admiration for Italy and the Italian music was widespread and there were ample opportunities to perform and to teach In England Geminiani found his first patron in the person of Baron Johann Adolf Kielmannsegg It was he who arranged a public performance with the king in attendance in which Geminiani was accompanied by Handel at the harpsichord It was also Kielmannsegg to whom Geminiani dedicated his 12 sonatas for violin and b c opus 1 This collection had considerable success and as the sonatas were stylistically close to Corelli he could convincingly present himself as Corelli s

    Original URL path: http://www.avisonensemble.com/the-ensemble/avisongeminiani.html (2016-02-10)
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