CORELLI Stravaganza: Sonatas
As prelude and postlude to their disc of Corelli trio sonatas, Stravaganza have included two pieces by Giovanni Battista Reali, both from his Op 1 (Venice, 1709), dedicated to Corelli. The two latter movements of his Capriccio primo, indeed, are quite Corellian, while his highly inventive variations on La folia could be seen as a tribute to the older composer, whose Folia had been published in 1700.
As to the Corelli sonatas, I was continually made aware what wonderful music I was listening to. One is sometimes conscious that Corelli’s style is rather circumscribed. But within the limits he sets himself, and in Stravaganza’s performances, what a wealth of artistry, beauty and variety. They bring intense expressiveness to the slower movements, the violins not stinting in adding elaborate, stylish decoration. In one or two instances, perhaps, these lyrical movements are taken too slowly – the triple-time Largo of Op 3 No 5 should sound more graceful and airy – but even here the playing remains remarkably persuasive. Corelli’s allegros are given a feeling of joyful vitality, the violinists using a stimulating variety of bow strokes. And the sequence of sonatas is beautifully managed, with appropriate changes in the continuo line-up – the A major Sonata, Op 4 No 3, is performed, most effectively, with just two violins and cello, while the presence of organ and theorbo lends gravity to the three sonate da chiesa.
Some of the finest music of the Baroque period, played with real understanding – I warmly recommend it.