The re-master of a 1974 Decca Record recording is excellent in execution and style. Neveille Marriner and St. Martin-in-the-Fields perform in their typical excellent manner.
Immensely popular during his time and maintaining their appeal today, Corelli's 12 Concerti Grossi, Op. 6, are among the gold standard for the form. They are divided into two sections, one being six concerti da camera and the other being six concerti da chiesa. The informatively written liner notes for this Harmonia Mundi album describe the potentially immense orchestra (for the time) that Corelli may have employed for his performances; this recording, however, uses more modest numbers, taking into account the different needs for the "da Camera" and "da Chiesa" concerti. French-based Ensemble 415 (which takes its name from a common Baroque tuning frequency) is led by its founder, violinist Chiara Banchini. All of the planning and research that went into discovering the right number of musicians and the proportions between them pays off in this richly colorful, masterfully balanced performance. The double basses (five for chiesa, two for camera) provide a deep, powerful foundation upon which the rest of the strings, archlutes, and harpsichords weave a diverse blend of tone colors, textures, and dynamic layers. The precise, energetic playing by the concertino offers a nicely contrasting but not underpowered counterpoint to the more powerful full orchestra. Intonation, ornamentation, brilliantly divergent tempos, and articulation are all well thought out throughout the two-disc set. Harmonia Mundi's sound is detailed, warm, and crystal clear.(Mike D. Brownell)
Arcangelo Corelli (February 17, 1653 - January 8, 1713) was a composer, pivotal figure of the Baroque period, and one of the most influential violinists of all time. Born in Fusignano, he studied in nearby Bologna and after 1675 lived in Rome. There, his patrons included Queen Christina of Sweden and, after 1690, the art patron Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni. Corelli was the most widely published and reprinted composer before the Franz Joseph Haydn, he was also the first composer to gain an international reputation solely on the basis of his instrumental music. Many elements of his style became commonplace in the 18th century, and his works are early examples of the newly evolved system of major and minor tonality. As the preeminent violin virtuoso of the day, he taught many leading violinist-composers of the 18th century. He gained success early, traveling throughout France, Germany, and Italy, establishing his reputation as a virtuoso. His legacy is, however, the influence his works, especially the Op. 5 trio sonatas, had on composers such as Francesco Geminiani (sonatas Op. 1, 1716), Pietro Locatelli, Francesco Mária Veracini, Giuseppe Tartini and many others.
The release of Concerti Grossi Opus 6 marks the beginning of Linn and The Avison Ensemble’s commitment to record Corelli’s complete chamber music. Arcangelo Corelli was one of the shining geniuses of the baroque era and his twelve Concerti Grossi are considered among the very best of Italian baroque output. The twelve Concerti Grossi demonstrate an austere grandeur and a never-ending invention which is never routine.
Published posthumously in 1714, the Concerti Grossi by Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713) became, in a very short time, one of the 19th century's most popular instrumental collections, much admired and imitated both in and outside Italy. For a long time these works were considered a perfect example of noble and marmoreal classicism; this fiery and colourful interpretation given by the Alessandro Stradella Consort led by Estevan Velardi, however, restores them to their deserved position within the process of renovation which European music was then undergoing, a process that indeed started in Italy.
The Italian ensemble I Virtuosi di Roma's long tradition of performing classics of the Italian Baroque pioneered in many ways the contemporary revival of early music. When its founder, Renato Fazzano, passed away the group disbanded, but a regrouping of sorts took place in the early 80s with eight members of the original group. The new ensemble, which calls itself I Solisti Italiani, has continued the Fazzano legacy, emphasizing line and grace in presenting particularly the works of Vivaldi.
Handel's unrivaled masterpieces of the concerto grosso form and style–his Twelve Grand Concertos, in seven parts, for four violins, a tenor, a violoncello, with a thorough-bass for the harpsichord–here receive their finest recording to date, with performances that leave all others–both period- and modern-instrument versions–in their wake. For obvious reasons these 12 concertos have remained popular since their publication in 1740: the irresistibly congenial tunes and engaging rhythms, the free-spirited fugues, endearing Largos and Adagios, and overall vivacious writing for all instruments elicits correspondingly high-spirited responses from anyone within earshot of these unrelentingly entertaining works.
Released in 1995, this Harmonia Mundi CD of five of Handel's Concerti grossi, Op. 6, is an absolute bargain and highly recommended to any lover of great music. Considering William Christie and Les Arts Florissants are among the most brilliant interpreters of Handel, that these gorgeous works afforded them an ideal platform for their talents, and that Harmonia Mundi provided the best possible engineering to capture their glorious sound, this album is an embarrassment of riches not to be missed.
Handel's Concerti Grossi opus 6 must surely be ranked as some of the greatest orchestral music ever composed. Probably penned in or around 1739, the pieces were developed to serve as orchestral "interludes" for other operatic or oratorio performances. To listen to them, however, is to tempt us not believe that this could possibly be the case: the Concerti Grossi opus 6 works are without doubt among the pinnacle of Baroque composition. After listening to these, we are left with a distinct sadness that Handel did not turn his attention more to this genre, as his masterful treatment in the opus 6 shows us his true genius.