Handel, Babell, Arne, Geminiani, Festing, Veracini

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COMPOSERS: Arne,Babell,Festing,Geminiani,Handel,Veracini
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: A London Concert
WORKS: 6 Sonatas for Cello and Continuo, Op. 5 – A minor; 12 Sonatas, ‘Sonate accademiche’,Op. 2 – No. 12 in D minor
PERFORMER: John Holloway (violin), Jaap ter Linden (cello), Lars Ulrik Mortensen (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: naimcd 037 (distr. Koch)
This programme provides the kind of fare that might have been on offer in a London tavern, theatre, concert room or private house in Handel’s day. ‘He who in the present time wants to make a profit out of music takes himself to England’ wrote the Hamburg critic Mattheson in 1713. London did indeed welcome a variety of foreign musicians during the first half of the 18th century, notably Handel and JC Bach. The present ‘London Concert’ reflects the cosmopolitan element with sonatas by Handel, Geminiani and Veracini, as well as other home-grown products by Arne, Michael Festing and William Babell. The programme has been thoughtfully chosen to reflect the wide expressive range of which the late Baroque sonata was capable. Less pleasing to my ears, though, is violinist John Holloway’s often insecure tuning. The first two movements of the Handel D major Sonata, a late and immensely rewarding piece, are among several which suffer from this problem – a great pity, for Holloway, as always, articulates the music with clarity and sensibility. This intermittent weakness did not otherwise spoil my enjoyment of animated and idiomatic playing. Jaap ter Linden plays one of Geminiani’s cello sonatas with elegance and tonal warmth while Lars Ulrik Mortensen gives a dashing performance of Babell’s keyboard arrangement of an aria from Handel’s first London opera, Rinaldo. Nicholas Anderson