Air: A Baroque Journey

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Anon. & Bach,Falconieri,Geminiani,Handel,Leclair,Marini,Matteis,Ortiz,Pachelbel,Telemann,Valente,Westhoff
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Works by Falconieri, Handel, Ortiz, Marini, Matteis, Pachelbel, Telemann, Westhoff, Geminiani, Valente, Leclair, Anon. & Bach
PERFORMER: Daniel Hope (violin); soloists from the Chamber Orchestra of Europe with Lorenza Borrani (violin), Jonathan Cohen (cello), Kristian Bezuidenhout (harpsichord, organ), Stefan Maass & Stephan Rath (lute, guitar), Hans-Kristian Kjos Sørenson (percussion)
CATALOGUE NO: 477 8094

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Daniel Hope’s declared aim is to trace the development of the Baroque violin, mainly through four composers – three Italian, one German. This throws up some fascinating, sometimes extraordinary, pieces.

Among the few surviving works of the Dresden composer Westhoff are a set of amazingly coloured sonatas with movements imitating bells, a lute, and a battle. Among a kaleidoscope of brief pieces are two complete concertos, one by Telemann, the other Geminiani’s arrangement of a Corelli sonata, stylishly accompanied by Hope’s five string colleagues and continuo.

A percussionist adds great rhythmic vitality in several dance movements; the opening Falconieri Ciaccona and a Tambourin by Leclair are irresistible. In all, here’s a striking demonstration of the sheer variety and invention of Baroque violin composers, though yet another Pachelbel Canon and a ‘Greensleeves’ arrangement seem to be concessions to the disc’s commercial potential. 

Although by no means ‘period’ performances – they’re at present-day pitch and, if the photos are accurate, employ modern strings and bows – they are admirably stylish. Hope uses vibrato as a colour and there are some delightful hues in the five continuo options, plucked and keyed.  

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Bar an occasional steely edge from relatively close-miked solo violin, recorded sound is excellent.
George Pratt