Student of Arcangelo Corelli, Francesco Geminiani was counted among a handful of Baroque-era violin virtuosos and was equally active as a composer and educator. As someone who out of necessity wrote a great deal of music for his own instrument Geminiani was also an innovator, his music beginning to bridge the gap from the late Baroque into the early Classical. Though he is known best for his violin works, Geminiani wrote for other instrumental combinations, as well. This Concerto album highlights the six sonatas of Op. 5, scored for cello and basso continuo.
How do you present music by an unknown composer on a market which already overflows with discs and in particular in a time of economic decline? You can devote a whole disc to this repertoire, but there is a good chance that a considerable part of the target group would remain sceptical. So many interpreters pretend that the music they have discovered is of world-class quality. Do we need to believe them? Emilio Percan tries to convince us that the music of Giovanni Antonio Piani is really worthwhile. He does so by presenting it together with music by two well-known masters of his time. That seems the most sensible way: if the listener is disappointed about Piani, he still has Handel and Geminiani to enjoy.
– Johan van Veen, MusicWeb International
A celebration of instrumental Baroque splendour! This set present an anthology of Italian Baroque composers, featuring their instrumental output. Obviously the famous composers have their fair share: Vivaldi, Albinoni, Locatelli, Corelli, but also lesser known composers are featured: Barsanti, Bassani, Veracini, Nardini, Stradella, Vitali, Mancini, Platti, Legrenze and many more, over 30 composers! Performances by leading ensembles specialized in the Historically Informed Performance Practice: L'Arte dell'Arco/Federico Guglielmo, Ensemble Cordia/Stefano Veggetti, Violini Capricciosi/Igor Ruhadze, MusicaAmphion/Pieter Jan Belder and many more. A treasure trove of solo concertos, concerti grossi, sinfonias, overtures, trio sonatas and solo sonatas from the Golden Era of the Italian Baroque, era of joy, passion and brilliance!
With this recording, the Purcell Quartet reach the mid-point in their six-part series of chamber music based on La Jolla, and although this CD is devoted to Geminiani, the only work on that tune is, in fact, his concerto grosso arrangement of Corelli's variations for violin (Op. 5 No. 12). In addition, they have chosen the G minor Concerto grosso (distinguished by Geminiani's remarkable concertino viola part, played to good effect by Alan George), two of Geminiani's original solo sonatas (giving Catherine Mackintosh and Elizabeth Wallfisch moments in which to shine) and trio arrangements of two of his violin sonatas.
The twenty sonatas on this recording show Handel writing for the professional musicians of his London opera orchestra; they demand considerable skill and stamina both from the soloist and the continuo. Prominent bass parts give the sonatas a contrapuntal strength and vitality, and Handel keeps the elements of display and purely musical argument in admirable balance in these works. For this reason, they are among the most attractive Baroque solo sonatas and deserve their lasting popularity.
Harmonia Mundi's Geminiani: Concerti Grossi VII-XII (after Corelli, Op. 5) is a single disc excerpted from a larger set issued in 1999 including all of Geminiani's concerti based on models of Corelli. That set was, and is, something of an expensive proposition, but certainly a first-class choice for the music of Geminiani, for the way the Academy of Ancient Music sounds under the direction of Andrew Manze and as representative of late English Baroque music as a whole. This disc is a single-disc condensation drawn from the earlier set that comes, as an added bonus, with a thick catalog of Harmonia Mundi's active releases, and the asking price is modest.