Corelli: Violin Sonatas op. 5

Floral design

Rémy Baudet violin, Jaap ter Linden cello, Mike Fentross theorbo & guitar, Pieter-Jan Belder harpsichord
119:53 (2 CDs in a single jewel case)
Brilliant Classics 95597

As I have written in these pages so many times in the past, recordings of such important repertoire really need to have something new to say about the music as well as the performers; oftentimes, this results in some hot-shot young fiddler taking the 12 sonatas by the scruff of the neck and decorating the living daylights out of them – the overall effect, of course, is that Corelli is lost in a whirlwind of notes and artificial conceits ranging from subito pianissimo to triple fortissimo just for sheer dramatic effect.

Quite to the contrary, this set (which features two “blasts from the past” in ter Linden and Fentross, a relative newcomer in Belder and – I am ashamed to say! – an unknown violinist in Rémy Baudet) is Corelli as the composer would probably have played it! Baudet has for many years led both modern and period ensembles across Europe as well as playing with the Quartetto Italiano and writing a book about developments in violin technique from 1770-1870. He is also quite the violinist, more than capable of shaping Corelli’s most complex part-writing, weaving the delicate filigree of the ornamentation of the slow movements, and actually dancing the dances. He is, of course, in splendid company, and the whole enterprise is beautifully captured by Brilliant’s engineers.

If – for some strange reason – you don’t already have a set of these pieces, buy this one. Even if you have, buy this one – at Brilliant’s amazingly low prices, this will be something against which to measure your favourite!

Brian Clark