Concerti grossi, Op. 6/4, 8 & 9; Violin Sonatas, Op. 5/4 & 7
Marco Scorticati (flute); Estro Cromatico
Arcana A112 57:38 mins
In the first decades of the 18th century, English publishers, sensing money to be made from the recorder’s growing market, had several of Corelli’s popular Op. 5 violin sonatas and concerti grossi ‘Fitted for the Flutes’. Downsized to just two recorders and continuo, an alluring liquid intimacy animates the opening Adagio of the F major Concerto Op. 6/4, while the following Allegro is quiveringly up on points. Slow movements breathe; fast ones twinkle; and the ensemble rings the continuo changes, ranging from a single harpsichord for the Op. 5/7 Sonata to cello, theorbo, harpsichord and organ which lend extra festivity to the Christmas Concerto. Perhaps the rich confection underpinning the F major Sonata’s opening slightly draws attention away from Marco Scorticati’s suave assumption of the solo line, but he artfully negotiates the googly of Corelli’s chordal writing with some energetically projected recorder figuration. And the Christmas Concerto’s first Allegro fairly crackles atop a pert and purposeful bass. The explosive drama of a violin digging into a string is a casualty, of course, in these ear-tickling adaptations; but 18th-century composers were ever pragmatic, and these conspicuously suave performances offer more than mere pragmatism.