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.
In this set of six sonatas for cello and continuo, Geminiani [1687-1762] follows the Corellian model […] of movements—except for the last, which is in three movements. Geminiani’s writing for the solo instrument shows an advance on Corelli in the brilliant figuration in the fast movements. Slow movements can sometimes be a bit perfunctory, lasting less than a minute, though this is not always the case. Geminiani apparently enjoyed working with the sonorities created by two cellos, and in his contrapuntal movements sometimes allows the solo and continuo cellos to cross lines.
Jaap ter Linden […] handles Geminiani’s elaborate music with ease. His smooth and rounded tone serves the music well. The continuo players provide able accompaniment. The performers are recorded in close perspective in excellent sound. (Ron Salemi, Fanfare)
Beethoven was a revolutionary man living in a revolutionary time. He captured his inner voice—demons and all—and the spirit of his time, and in doing so, created a body of music the likes of which no one had ever before imagined. "An artist must never stand still," he once said. A virtuoso at the keyboard, Beethoven used the piano as his personal musical laboratory, and the piano sonata became, more than any other genre of music, a place where he could experiment with harmony, motivic development, the contextual use of form, and, most important, his developing view of music as a self-expressive art.
"Ensemble 415 is a chamber ensemble devoted largely to the performance of Baroque music on period instruments. The numerical reference in the group's name derives from the pitch used for tuning instruments in the Baroque era. In performing chamber music, Ensemble 415 consists of just a few players, but for larger compositions, the number expands to a minimum of 13 and can reach up to as high as 40 performers. The ensemble's repertory has been broad over the years, taking in many Baroque standards by J.S. Bach, Vivaldi, and Handel, as well as lesser known fare by Muffat and others…"