Notes and Editorial Reviews
Violin Sonatas: in D,
Enrico Onofri (vn); dir; Ens Imaginarium (period instruments)
PASSACAILLE 988 (59:37)
The first volume of Enrico Onofri’s recording of Corelli’s Violin Sonatas, op. 5, includes six of the 12 works, played at what the booklet describes as low Roman pitch, with A=390 (about another half-tone below the more usual Baroque pitch, A=415). Onofri mentions in his booklet note that, among all the alternatives available for ornamentation, he’s chosen to mix methods, here employing Corelli’s (supposedly), published by Etienne Roger in 1710, and there his own.
The program opens with a reading, in Italian, of the title page’s dedication to Princess Sofia Carlotta. Reproductions of these dedications have appeared in releases’ booklet notes; but I can’t remember readings on stage or recordings. The reading gives way, without pause, to the First Sonata. The bright sparkle of Onofri’s ornamentation in this movement and his lambent arpeggiation in the fugal one balance timbrally the generally darker lower pitch and the use of violone in the continuo group (this one, made by Simone Cimapane had actually been employed, as its maker had been, in Corelli’s own ensemble), providing an unusually firm timbral anchor. The lower pitch does, however, take some of the edge off the étude-like
(one of these movements occurs in each of Corelli’s solo sonatas
). Once again in the finale, however, Onofri’s passagework admits glancing shafts of sunlight.
Onofri’s infectious animation in the Preludio of the sonata
, op. 5/7, carries through the subsequent Corrente. He doesn’t linger, either, in the Sarabanda, in which he adds engaging ornamentation to the repetitions; and he turns the Giga into a lighthearted romp. The Third Sonata, again cast in the mold of the sonata
, contains in its second movement episodic passagework that relieves the quasi-fugal statements and a pedal point at the end; the ensemble takes effective advantage of all these gestures and devices.
Onofri adopts a slowly flowing tempo in the opening movement of the Ninth Sonata (
). John Hawkins published Francesco Geminiani’s ornaments for this sonata; but, though Onofri doesn’t play them, his own in the first movement’s repeats seem patterned in a general way on them. Ettore Pinelli chose the Giga that follows for his orchestrated suite of movements from Corelli’s sonatas. Onofri again chooses ornaments different from Geminiani’s; but while these aren’t even similar, Onofri’s quick tempos make them equally effervescent. He also pursues his own way in the
Tempo di Gavotta
that brings the work to a close, again achieving a sense of excitement (his pointedly sharp staccatos across the string contribute a great deal to the effect), although he occasionally borrows an idea from Geminiani.
The Fifth Sonata begins with what sounds like a big gulp of breath, with the
exhibiting no indulgent time wasting. The program ends with the 10th Sonata, in the Preludio of which Onofri and the ensemble capture the tranquility, but also the shadows, of the key of F Major. The Allemanda, the celebrated Gavotta, and the Terpsichorean Giga sound unusually sprightly, with the violone’s sparse accompaniment; but the same setting creates a strongly contrasting effect in the Preludio (which, as in the case of Fifth Sonata, opens with a gulp) and in the Sarabanda.
Elisabeth Zeuthen Schneider and the Trio Corelli offered all of the sonatas on Bridge 9371A/B,
36:2. The fine or interesting recordings range from Andrew Manze’s individual readings (Harmonia Mundi 907298.99,
26:5), through Elizabeth Wallfisch’s starchy ones (Hyperion CDA66381/2, recommended by Nils Anderson in
14:4), and Ryo Terakado’s energetic ones (Denon CO-78820,
19:6), to John Holloway’s strong and imaginative ones (Novalis 150-128-2,
20:3), and François Fernandez’s tart ones (Naxos 8.557799,
31:2). I suggested in my review of Schneider’s set that none of these others had made so deep an impression as hers. But Onofri’s set, with the Ensemble Imaginarium, strongly individual and by turns playful and lyrical, deserves to stand with it. Urgently recommended.
FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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