WORKS: Concerto in Seven Parts, No. 3; Concerto in Seven Parts, No. 5; Concerto in Seven Parts, No. 6; Concerto in Seven Parts, No. 9; Concerto in Seven Parts, No. 11; Concerto in Seven Parts, No. 12
PERFORMER: Café Zimmermann
CATALOGUE NO: 031
Charles Avison was an 18th-century organist of Newcastle-upon-Tyne Parish Church, and instigated a thriving musical life in his home town. Yet although he consistently refused job offers from more prestigious musical cities and spent his career in one of the remotest English provinces, this disc proves he was hardly a provincial musician.
In 1739 Avison subscribed to Thomas Roseingrave’s edition of Domenico Scarlatti’s Harpsichord Lessons, alongside peers such as Arne, Boyce and Greene. During the next few years Avison prepared several arrangements of movements from Scarlatti’s sonatas taken from various sources. In about 1743 these were published as 12 Concertos in Seven Parts. Avison probably intended that these could be performed by a small chamber group, or as concerti grossi with a ripieno group adding weight to the tutti sections.
Café Zimmermann takes the latter option to notably impressive effect. The approach could easily become formulaic, yet these emphatically delivered and immaculately shaped performances are consistently compelling. Avison’s scoring is balanced with sensitivity and imagination, and each concerto contains a wealth of inventive ideas. Only half of Avison’s 12 ‘Scarlatti’ concertos are represented on this attractively packaged and brilliant disc, and one is left eager to hear the rest.