Corelli Concerto Grossi, Op. 6
This is the first in a projected series of Corelli recordings by the Avison Ensemble marking the 300th anniversary of the composer’s death, and what better way to begin than with the iconic Op. 6 Concerti Grossi. Celebrated and emulated across Europe (not least by Handel, who pays homage in his own Op. 6 collection), the centrepiece of the set is the so-called Christmas Concerto – a musical tableau evoking the Nativity, complete with piping shepherds.
Under the assured and affable direction of violinist Pavlo Beznosiuk, the Avison Ensemble eschews the flashy bravura of some of its competitors in favour of a subtle graciousness that seems to capture the essence of Corelli’s polished style. They point up the fleet dance rhythms with lightweight bowing and clean articulation, while more expansive playing and measured tempos in the slow movements convey the ‘majestic, solemn, and sublime’ qualities that Corelli’s contemporaries so admired. Though there’s occasionally a slight edginess to the violin sound, it doesn’t seriously detract from otherwise ingratiating performances.
Linn’s spacious recording suggests resonant Roman churches and enhances the dramatic textural contrasts between concertino and ripieno groups. And with 5.1 surround sound, you can wallow in true Baroque splendour.