Notes and Editorial Reviews
For a large part of the 20th century violinists learned Baroque sonatas and concertos as glorified exercises (even as justification for having to practice all those scales and arpeggios!), as respected historical foundations that must be stood on and conquered, and ultimately as important landmarks on the path to the "really great" solo works ("Now, my boy, I think you're finally ready for the Mendelssohn!"). In other words, these pieces were not regarded as ends in themselves for the soloist, or certainly not as subjects for involved study. And no one believed such works offered extended possibilities for self-expression. Indeed, students were impressed with an unwritten rule
that in this repertoire, you were to just "play the notes". Some teachers even made the point that ornamentation and improvisation, while once an integral part of Baroque performance, was no longer taught and therefore today's performers just didn't practice this lost art, thereby excusing developing young artists from another challenge (and perhaps adventure!). So we played Telemann and Bach and Vivaldi and Corelli straight and fast and in strict metronomic pulse--even the slow movements. All of this implied that there was a "correct" way--not the same as today's "period-performance" correctness--whose purpose was to preserve (as formaldehyde preserves) an ancient artifact.
Along comes Andrew Manze in the waning years of the 20th century, and all of our previously ingrained expectations regarding Baroque performance are suddenly and marvelously shattered. At last, here is a violinist who reasserts this music's once-accepted and long-misunderstood inherent excitement, its improvisatory roots, its performer-oriented legitimacy. As embodied in Corelli's magnificent Op. 5 sonatas, Manze and his long-time keyboard partner Richard Egarr set off a series of musical fireworks that not only revive these pieces as substantial concert works but also establish them as assertions of virtuoso technique and shameless celebrations of period style. Of course, Corelli's creations represent a high point in violin writing, whatever the period, but Manze expands the written notes into a dazzling display of sheer technique and well-considered yet stunningly imaginative interpretation, all of which shows off his 18th-century instrument to full effect. The engineering gives full measure to Manze's intense, delightfully edgy sound and balances perfectly with Egarr's bright, sparkly harpsichord timbre. Can Manze make a less-than-ideal recording? Apparently not. [3/15/2003]
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Sonatas (12) for Violin and Basso Continuo, Op. 5 by Arcangelo Corelli
Andrew Manze (Violin),
Richard Egarr (Harpsichord)
Written: 1700; Rome, Italy
Date of Recording: 11/2001
Venue: Skywalker Sound Studios, Nicasio, CA
Length: 131 Minutes 11 Secs.
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