After Handel, Geminiani was among the most prominent foreign musicians to settle in England during the first half of the 18th century. His most celebrated collection of concertos was published in 1732 as his Op. 3. Charles Burney rated them highly and it is easy to see why: they are beautifully crafted pieces modelled, to some extent, on those of his teacher, Corelli. But, in addition to the two violins and cello which form the typical concertino/solo group of the Corellian concerto grosso, Geminiani added a viola to make up a quartet. He was not quite the first to do this, but he was the first to integrate the solo and grosso elements with such finesse.
Though Geminiani expressed a great deal of pride and acoomplishment regarding his Six Cello Sonatas, Op. 5, his writing style proved to be passé for audiences of the time and they did not receive their due appreciation. Today, however, they are recognized for what they are: one of the finest sets of cello sonatas to emerge from the last half of the 18th century. Geminiani's writing demonstrates a thorough knowledge of the cello's technical abilities as well as its abilities to convey emotions and sentiments. His writing, scored for solo cello, harpsichord, and basso continuo, is highly elaborate, filled with sophisticated ornamentation and an active continuo part.
It is now generally accepted that Vivaldi wrote ten cello sonatas – one of them now lost. Six (RV 47, 41, 43, 45, 40 and 46) of the surviving nine were published posthumously as a set, in Paris, by Charles-Nicolas Le Clerc around 1740. The other three survive in manuscript collections: RV 42 (along with RV 46) is preserved in the library at Wiesentheid Castle at Unterfranken in Germany; RV 39 and 44 (along with RV 47) are to be found in a manuscript in the Naples Conservatoire.
Geminiani’s opus 5 consists of six cello sonatas, and was first published in Paris in 1746. The twenty years either side of 1740 saw the cello rise to a very fashionable position in French musical society, largely at the expense of the bass-viol – a change of fashion which stirred such strong emotions that in 1740 Hubert Le Blanc published his fierce Defense de la basse de viole contre les entreprises du violon et les pretensions du violencel. Music such as that by Vivaldi and Geminiani which is played here by Roel Dieltiens and his colleagues must have made a powerful counter-case for the cello.
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.
Andrew Manze is not only a superb violinist – check out his Biber sonatas – but also a superb music director. Since taking over the calcified old Academy of Ancient Music and bringing the group with him to Harmonia Mundi, he has produced a stunning series of recordings: a couple of Vivaldi discs, a wonderful set of Handel's Opus 6 concertos, a sublime disc of the Bach concertos. Now they have released Geminiani's Concerto Grossi after Corelli's Op. 5, and it is their best yet.
The compositions recorded here are a significant example of musical taste as it spread to the other side of the English channel in the first decades of the 18th century. England welcomed the ‘Corellian’ style with such enthusiasm as to attract onto its banks a rich line-up of instrumentalists, singers, impresarios who with varying degrees of success contributed to the spread of the new Italian style based on the Sonata and the Concerto Grosso canonized in Corelli’s Op. V and VI. Francesco Geminiani arrived in London in 1714. As a direct disciple of Corelli, it was easy for him to become part of the musical life there in London, soon gaining great fame as a violinist.
Wer erkunden möchte, welche Brillanz und Farbenvielfalt das Spiel auf einer Blockflöte ermöglicht, sollte in dieses vielgestaltige Programm mit italienischen Sonaten hineinhören. Dorothee Oberlinger verfügt über eine phänomenale Technik, mit der sie jeden musikalischen Impuls umzusetzen und ihre Spielfreude ungebremst auszuleben vermag. Selbst in den rasantesten Läufen und vertracktesten Verzierungen bleibt die Artikulation glasklar, der Ton wunderbar präsent und konturiert.
Some of the Italian musicians who came to London to ‘make their fortunes’ found themselves influenced by the Celtic lands and their rich tradition of folk music. They were in their turn admired and sometimes even copied by their counterparts in the British Isles. This recording shows the outcome of that encounter. Lorenzo Bocchi was probably the first Italian cellist to settle in Edinburgh, in 1720. Francesco Geminiani (1687-1762) arrived in Dublin in 1733. Since 1714 he had been resident in London, where he performed with Handel, but his passion for art dealing landed him in prison. The Earl of Essex then took him under his protection in Dublin, where he swiftly acquired a high reputation. In 1749 he published in London a collection of songs and tunes arranged as sonatas for several instruments combined with a treatise that gives us much useful information on how to play this music.
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.
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