Corelli: Viola da Gamba Sonatas, Vol. 2: Op. 5/1, 4, 6, 8, 9 & 12

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LABELS: Symphonia
WORKS: Viola da Gamba Sonatas, Vol. 2: Op. 5/1, 4, 6, 8, 9 & 12
PERFORMER: Guido Balestracci, Paolo Pandolfo (viola da gamba), Gaetano Nasillo (cello), Luciano Còntini (archlute), Massimiliano Raschietti (harpsichord, organ)
This second volume of recordings featuring transcriptions for viola da gamba of Corelli’s celebrated Op. 5 sonatas for violin and continuo contains the First, Fourth, Sixth, Eighth, Ninth and Twelfth Sonatas of the set, which is based on an 18th-century manuscript preserved in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. Who transcribed them remains a mystery, but the soloist, Guido Balestracci, suggests that it might have been the work of a musician from one of the German-speaking countries. The transcriptions are effective and these fine sonatas sound well, though quite different, of course, on a viola da gamba. While Balestracci is an accomplished player with pleasing sensibilities, his instrument cannot, in the end, compensate for the loss of the greater tension, brilliance and highly developed fantasy of which the violin by virtue of its size, character and ornamental facility is capable. I cannot imagine a gamba virtuoso making out a much stronger case for these transcriptions than Balestracci and his discreetly complementary continuo group, but before very long I found myself yearning for Corelli’s originals with their distinctive figurations primarily envisaged for his own instrument, the violin. Nicholas Anderson

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