Notes and Editorial Reviews
Vivaldi’s sonatas for violin and continuo follow his volume of trio sonatas, which, like these, paid homage to the acknowledged master of the form, Arcangelo Corelli, but staked out new, personal territory. Michael Talbot’s notes trace the origins of these sonatas in duets and various changes in their editions’ title pages—if not thoroughgoingly in the nature of their conception. Individual movements make reference to Corelli’s Sonata da camera: Preludio, Allemande, Corrente, Sarabanda, and Giga; and their number varies from three (Sonatas 5–6) to four (Sonatas 1–4, although Wallfisch and her colleagues have topped off the Second Sonata with a fifth movement, Pastorale ad libitum, by Nicholas Chédeville). But if they hint at things
past (the opening Sonata No. 1 seems to make a reference, not entirely oblique, to the opening of Corelli’s Sonata, op. 5/8 and the Allemande of Sonata No. 4 seems quite as closely related to the older master, though the specific reference may not be so clear), these sonatas also foreshadow things to come—the Third Sonata’s Preludio bears a strong affinity to the “Domine Deus” of the
Gloria, RV 589.
If, at one time, Elizabeth Wallfisch nearly epitomized the nasal, viol-like sound ideal embraced by many period instrumentalists, these performances, still mildly acidic, should hardly offend even the most stubborn defenders of modern instruments in this literature. She creates such excitement with her strappingly vigorous approach that listening to these works never degenerates into an exercise in “wrong-end-of-the-telescope perspective.” Her partnership with Richard Tunnicliffe and Malcolm Proud captures the spirit if not the letter of the supposed original intent of the sonatas as duos for violin and cello. The group employs “various” 6th-comma temperaments; Wallfisch plays on a 2001 Roger Hargrave violin “after Andreas Amati”; while Tunnicliffe employs a 1720 four-string cello by Maussiell (Sonatas 1, 2, 4, and 5) and a 1724 five-string cello by Malahar (Sonata 3). Proud plays a Ransom and Hammett harpsichord after Grimaldi. The engineers have balanced these instruments almost perfectly in lively recorded sound.
Vivaldi’s sonatas have lagged behind his concertos in popularity. Displaying neither their rhythmic incisiveness nor their flamboyant virtuosity, they nevertheless possess an energy and melodic coherence that sets them in advance of even Corelli’s sonatas, then not yet a generation old but already famous. Wallfisch and company have arguably made a more modern case for their appeal to our own times by restoring their
élan vital. For the ardor of their championship and the bracing exhilaration of their camaraderie, their performances deserve to be strongly recommended to general listeners. (Those who wish to acquire the complete set of op. 2 and can’t, or don’t want to, wait for Wallfisch to record the last six sonatas can turn to Walter Reiter and Cordaria on Signum SIGCD014, 24:2 or, preferably, to Fabrizio Cipriani—Cantus 9608/9—both on period instruments, or to Salvatore Accardo’s eloquent version on modern instruments from 1977, now part of the Vivaldi Edition, Philips 456 185-2.)
Robert Maxham, FANFARE
Works on This Recording
Featured Sound Samples
Violin Sonata in G minor, op 2 no 1: II. Giga: Allegro
Violin Sonata in F, op 2 no 4: IV. Corrente: Presto
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