Early Music News

Avison’s recently rediscovered arrangements as seven-part concertos of Geminiani’s Op. 1 violin sonatas continue an honourable tradition dating back to Geminiani’s own arrangements of Corelli’s Op. 5 sonatas. They make very convincing concertos and are a welcome addition to the repertoire (Avison omitted Geminiani’s Op. 1 No. 11, but Beznosiuk has skilfully remedied the deficiency). This is music of outstanding quality and originality: Geminiani has the rare ability to do the unexpected while making the result sound completely natural, and Avison’s ingenious and technically assured versions do much to enhance the appeal of these pieces.

The performances are outstanding. The band (strings 3/3/2/2/1 plus harpsichord) is richly sonorous; the ensemble is faultless; the tempi are seemingly infallibly judged; the phrasing is subtle and expressive; and virtuoso solos are dispatched with aplomb. What more could one possibly want? It’s a real pleasure to have two absolute winners from The Avison Ensemble to review in the same issue. They must surely be one of the finest baroque ensembles now in existence.

—Richard Maunder