CORELLI Trio Sonatas, Op 4
If Enrico Gatti is thinking of recording all four of Corelli’s sets of trio sonatas, it may take a while; this release of Op 4 follows on from the Op 3 set he recorded for Tactus in 1996-97 and whose reissue on Arcana three years ago I enjoyed greatly (A/10). Much can change during such a gap – every member of Ensemble Aurora except Gatti himself for example – but the essential approach remains measured and thoughtful, with an emphasis on classical grace and balance. As it happens, Op 4 is itself just a tiny bit more unbuttoned than Op 3, demonstrating as it does the sonata da camera model made up largely of dance movements, yet each has a Preludio to start it off with typical gravity; and it is interesting to see that, in their scrambling of the set’s published order, Ensemble Aurora have chosen to open each of the two discs with an especially rich example, respectively the politely sparring arpeggios of No 6 and the eloquent and melancholy dialogue of No 3. And everywhere the music demonstrates the full gamut of Corellian gestures which, familiar or even clichéd though they may sound, never seem less than exactly the right move for the moment.
Ensemble Aurora offer an airier sound than before, not least because a harpsichord has replaced the organ and because one of the violins is slightly more in focus than the other, but at the same time brightness is subdued by the choice of ‘Roman’ low pitch of A=400Hz. Despite some mellifluous ornamentation, these are still among the soberer Corelli trios on record, with movements ending in a reined-in piano and not much concern shown for maintaining momentum between them. You may want to look elsewhere for something more quick and spontaneous – the Purcell Quartet for example – but for nobility and decorum befitting a composer whose body lies buried in the Pantheon, this is the one.