Avison: 12 Concerti Grossi (after Scarlatti)

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COMPOSERS: Avison
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: 12 Concerti Grossi (after Scarlatti)
PERFORMER: Brandenburg Consort/Roy Goodman
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 66891/2 DDD
It was something of a challenge to arrange a series of Domenico Scarlatti harpsichord sonatas as concerti grossi, but what Charles Avison (1709-70) was trying to accomplish was (a) to capitalise on the sudden popularity of Scarlatti and (b) to profit from the vastly successful genre of the concerto grosso. Avison’s task was made more difficult because he could not find enough slow movements in the Scarlatti sonatas to make up the standard combination of slow-fast-slow-fast movements of the typical concerto grosso. Avison slowed down some of the Scarlatti quick movements and seems to have composed some of his own as well. In the final Concerto there are no fewer than four of the six movements for which scholars have been unable to find any Scarlatti sources, and these are all slowish movements.

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This is a delightful set with generous timings (about 75 minutes per disc). Roy Goodman seems to have made an affectionate study of these works and the results are enchanting. If you are a lover of Baroque concerti grossi, do not fail to listen to these heart-warming records: Italian-Iberian charm with British know-how. HC Robbins Landon