SEON - RCA Red Seal
1 LP - RL 30393 - (p) 1980
1 CD - SBK 61786 - (c) 1999


Arcangelo CORELLI (1653-1713) (Sonate) in G Minor, op. 5 Nr. 7
9' 19" A1

- Preludio (Vivace) · Corrente (Allegro) · Sarabanda (Largo) · Giga (Allegro)

(Sonate) in A Minor, op. 5 Nr. 8
8' 54" A2

- Preludio (Largo) · Allemanda (Allegro) · Sarabanda (Largo) · Giga (Allegro)

(Sonate) in E-flat Major, op. 5 Nr. 9
8' 44" A3

- Preludio (Largo) · Giga (Allegro) · [...] (Adagio) · Tempo di gavotta (Allegro)

(Sonate) in C Major, op. 5 Nr. 10
8' 50" B1

- Preludio (Adagio) · Allemanda (Allegro) · Sarabanda (Largo) · Gavotta (Allegro) · Giga (Allegro)

(Sonate) in B-flat Major, op. 5 Nr. 11
7' 16" B2

- Preludio (Adagio) · [...] (Allegro) · [...] (Adagio-Vivace) · Gacotta (Allegro)

"Follia" in G Minor, op. 5 Nr. 12 *
9' 30" B3

Frans Brüggen, Recorder (in f' after P. Bressan, London, c. 1710 of Frederick Morgan, Melbourne, Amsterdam, 1979)

Anner Bylsma, Voloncello (Mattio Goffriller, Venezia, 1669)
Gustav Leonhardt, Harpsichord (Martin Skowroneck, Bremen, 1960)

Luogo e data di registrazione
Lutherse Kerk, Haarlem (Holland) - Agosto 1979 & Marzo 1980 *

Registrazione: live / studio

Producer / Recording Supervisor
Wolf Erichson

Recording Engineer

Teije ven Geest

Prima Edizione LP
Seon (RCA Res Seal) | RL 30393 | 1 LP - durata 53' 31" | (p) 1980 | ANA

Edizione CD
Sony | SBK 61786 | 1 CD - durata 53' 31" | (c) 1999 | ADD

Original Cover

Meister des 17./18. Jh., Blockflötenspieler, Oil painting, c. 1705 (owned by Dr. Carl Dolmetsch, Haslemere/England)


Before the remarkable revival of interest in "early" music that has occurred in the 20th century, the only composers of the Baroque era to be known to the general public were Bach and Handel. Nowadays, when there are 30 recordings of Vivaldi's Four Seasons in the catalogue and a Pachelbel canon can become an international best-seller, it is surprising that one of the most celebrated Italian composers of the late Baroque, whose work were still said to be quoted like those of a classical author nearly a century after their publication, is although, discussed extentively in music history books, less often performed. The composer in question is Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713), who spent his working life in Rome, mostly in the service of cardinal Ottoboni, a nephew of the Pope and great patron of the arts, particularly music. Ottoboni gave Corelli lodgings at his palace and treated him more as a friend than a servant. There, as Christopher Hogwood has written, he lived "in an atmosphere of peace and serenity that few other composers ever achieved, he was, by all accounts, a midd man, not over-generous, given to collecting pictures and dressing in black (according to Handel). His works were only published after the utmost refining and reworking, and after they had been thoroughly tested in performance". These monumental publications, all for strings, consisted of four sets of 12 trio sonatas (first issued 1681/1685/1689/1694), a set of solo sonatas (1700) and one of concerti grossi (1714). They achieved unparallelled success. His sonatas, for example, were reprinted no fewer than 78 times during his lifetime and another 30 during the next century, 18th-cntury writers fell over themselves in their esagerness to praise them. "Lì music can be immortal", wrote Roger North, "Corelli's consorts (ensemble music) will be so", and Sir John Hawkins called his music "the language of nature". Other composers copied his styles and forms slavishly.
Ironically, the very qualities Corelli's contemporaies admired in his music seem to be responsible for its present relative neglect. Taste has changed. They rejoiced in his strict observance of the law's of harmony, his refinement, his restraint and moderation, his lack of novelry and surprise, his avoidance of extreme virtuosity, and above all the universality of his appeal: "his compositions", said Hawkins, "are equally intelligible to the learned and unlearned". To the modern ear his music can seem merely dull. But in retrospect we can see that Corelli achieved a remarkable synthesis of the various strands of style, form and technique in the Italian music of his day. He refined the priciples of thematic unity in and between movements, established the slow-fast-slow-fast order of movements as the norm for sonatas (though he was less regular in this than his imitators), and above all consolidated the major-minor system of tonality. Moreover, in practice his music may not have been as serene as it looks on the printed page. "A person who had heard him perform", wrote Hawkins, "says that whilst he was playing on the violin it was usual for his countenance to be distorted, his eyes to become as red as fire, and his eyerballs to roll as in agony". Corelli's Opus 5 consists of 11 sonatas and a set of variations. The first six sonatas (not included on this record) are sonate da chiesa (church sonatas), made up for the most part of parely abstract movements of a serious character. The five of Part II are sonate da camera (consort sonatas), consisting of dance movements and a few abstract movements in a lighter vein. Corelli, in fast, did not call duetti sonatas but "Preludii, Allemande, Correnti, Gighe, Sarabande, Gavotte". The final work in the collection is a set of 23 variations on La Follia, a sixteen-bar ground bass that had been quied as the basis of variations for well over a century and has by then picked up an "accompanying" melody in chaconne rhythm. This is something of a tour de force, particularly in bowing technique.
Corelli's sonatas, solo and trio, were played in England from the start. Roger north wrote in 1728 of their pre-eminences rôle in the establishment of the Italian style there in place of the prevailing French taste. His firm collection "cleared the ground of all other sorts of music whatsoever. By degrees the rest of his consorts, and at last the concertos came, all which are to the musicians like the bread of life". The Opus 5 sonatas were eagerly anticipated in london. They were advertised for sale by subscription by John Crouch, one of the royal violinists, the year before publication, and the following years, "being newly brought from Rome", they were sold by John Banister and Robert King, also royal violinists and, significantly, the leading concert promoters of the day. We know from contemporaneous advertisements that during the next decade they were performed in the intervals of plays at Drury Lane by Gasparo Visconti (alias Gasperini), "five years Corelli's scholar), and in concerts by the leading English violinists, Dean, Viner, Thomas Baston, and Corbett.
There was no shortage of good amateur violinists in England, but the instrument of the common (middle class) man was the recorder. The public wanted to hear and play the latest fashion, therefore publishers like Walsh in London and Roger in Amsterdam (who had an agent in London), alwaysshrewd businessmen, lost no time in issuing Corelli's works in a form that would appeal to the greatest number of performers: arrangements for the recorder. In 1702, only two years after Opus 5 appeared in Rome, Walsh published a version "transposed and made fit" for treble recorder and flute basso (sic!) "with the approbation of several eminent masters", who were, however, apparently not eminent enough to be named. This is the basis of the works on this record.
David Lasocki