Corelli’s Legacy

Szabolcs Illés violin, Dalibor Pimek cello, Ondřej Macek harpsichord & organ
61:35
Hungaroton HCD 32765

This enterprising CD places music by Corelli next to works by several of his pupils Visconti, Somis, Mossi and Castrucci and the only one I had come across before, Geminiani. As such it is an interesting exploration of the initial influence of the great master, although of course his highly original shadow falls far and wide on the music of the whole Baroque era. Apart from Corelli’s opus 5 no 3 Sonata, all the works here are receiving their premiere recordings, and this alone makes the CD thoroughly worthwhile. The playing is sensitive and the music elegantly and appropriately ornamented, so I found myself slightly puzzled by what was lacking. Szabolcs Illés’s Baroque violin tone is slightly shallow and scratchy, either due to the acoustic or the recording, and his intonation very occasionally is a little slap-dash, but perhaps ultimately the musicians sadly don’t sound entirely ‘on top of’ this distinctive repertoire, and the music just sounds rather joyless. On the subject of pupils, Illes is a pupil of Sigiswald Kuijken, which is why I am surprised that the playing is not more passionate and idiomatic, but having returned to the CD several times I’m afraid it just isn’t. There are those who will want to own this CD simply because of the wealth of unfamiliar material here, but I couldn’t help wishing that it could have been more appetisingly presented.

D. James Ross