Corelli: Sonate da chiesa, Op. 3; Sonate postume

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COMPOSERS: Corelli
LABELS: Arcana
WORKS: Sonate da chiesa, Op. 3; Sonate postume
PERFORMER: Ensemble Aurora/Enrico Gatti
CATALOGUE NO: A 902
This set of ‘Trio Sonatas for two violins, violone or archlute with bass for the organ’ was printed in 1689 as Corelli’s Op. 3. The composer dedicated the anthology to Francesco II of Este, Duke of Modena, who had earlier expressed interest in taking Corelli into his service. The 12 Op. 3 Sonatas belong to the sonata da chiesa or church sonata category, which excluded movements overtly classified as dances, and which were of a more serious outlook than their sonata da camera counterparts.

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The Italian Ensemble Aurora discovers the graceful contours of Corelli’s music effectively and without encumbering it with too thick an ornamental veneer. The balance between the two violinists is perfectly judged with a basso continuo that offers a lightly articulated, resonant and tastefully realised support. Sometimes I found myself longing for something a shade more extravagant, more Baroque, in the way of rhetorical gesture; while the serious-mindedness of these musicians is certainly not misplaced in the present context, a greater variety of ‘affect’ would have been welcome. What a contrast, though, between the many strengths of this playing and the mainly fanciful booklet essay which offers page upon page of interminable nonsense. Some useful facts are concealed therein, but you’ll need dispensation for special study leave to find them. A mainly enjoyable set, even so. Nicholas Anderson