Friday, May 20, 2011

Geminani: La Folia - The Purcell Quartet, The Purcell Band

Francesco Geminani
La Folia and other Concertos and Sonatas
The Purcell Quartet, The Purcell Band
Hyperion CDA66264

With this recording, the Purcell Quartet reach the mid-point in their six-part series of chamber music based on La Jolla, and although this CD is devoted to Geminiani, the only work on that tune is, in fact, his concerto grosso arrangement of Corelli's variations for violin (Op. 5 No. 12). In addition, they have chosen the G minor Concerto grosso (distinguished by Geminiani's remarkable concertino viola part, played to good effect by Alan George), two of Geminiani's original solo sonatas (giving Catherine Mackintosh and Elizabeth Wallfisch moments in which to shine) and trio arrangements of two of his violin sonatas.

The Purcell Quartet have very much developed their own sound: graceful, lyrical and totally lacking in the self-conscious ostentation that sometimes creeps into modern period performances. As in their previous recordings, they have championed music once relegated to amateur circles and reclaimed it with interesting and stylish renditions. Without wishing to promote feminism in performance practice, it must be said that Mackintosh and Wallfisch bring a rare and delightful combination of vitality and sweetness to the performances, which are deftly and sensitively supported by Richard Boothby and Robert Woolley. Wallfisch's E minor Sonata is one of the highlights of the disc (Mackintosh sounds tentative and not as secure as usual in the A major) and together the two violinists easily meet the demands of the La folia Concerto, with its teasing suspensions and virtuoso passagework. The two women clearly enjoy being pitted against one another in the trios and the result is eloquent and spirited.

J.A.S., Gramophone Magazine 1988

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