Arcangelo Corelli, Solo Chamber Sonatas Opus 5: A Review

By Charles McKnight • August 04, 2004 • 2 min read

Corelli SonatasArcangelo Corelli, Solo Chamber Sonatas Opus 5. Kagarice Brass Editions KUCS 1207. Personnel: Mike Hall, alto trombone; Rebecca Bell, harpsichord; Larry Rice, double bass. Selections: Sonata No. 7 in D minor, Sonata No. 8 in E minor, Sonata No. 9 in A major, Sonata No. 10 in F major, Sonata No. 11 in E major, Sonata No. 12 in D minor ("La Folia" Variations).

The essence of late Baroque violin music can be found in the solo sonatas of Arcangello Corelli (1653-1713). These influential compositions served as models for composers and performers throughout the eighteenth century. During the last three hundred years performers on many different instruments have been attracted to the technical clarity and melodiousness of these remarkable compositions. Mike Hall of the University of Kansas has adapted the chamber sonatas (Nos. 7-12) of Corelli's Opus 5 for alto trombone, harpsichord, and double bass. The sonatas recorded here are available in performing editions from Kagarice Brass Editions.

The performances on this recording are beautiful and persuasive, both musically and technically. Hall's tone is consistently rich throughout the range of the instrument, and his technical dexterity is astounding. He has achieved a characteristically Baroque style of expressiveness that blends perfectly with the harpsichord and bass. The realization of the figured bass by harpsichordist Rebecca Bell and double bassist Larry Rice is a perfect match to the lyricism of the slow movements and the technical display of the fast movements of these sonatas. Recording engineer Paul Eachus has captured the performances with a rich, warm sound well suited to the chamber music nature of these pieces.

The least persuasive aspect in the recording is the use of multiphonics in the Twelfth Sonata, the Folia variations. Hall has employed multiphonics in an attempt to capture the thickening of the texture by the use of double stops on the violin. His technique is infallibly accurate and the intonation is perfect, but the abrupt change in tone quality is disruptive and distracts from Hall's beautiful lyricism in those passages.

This is a first-rate recording of splendid music sensitively performed.