Review: Genius of Corelli at Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral

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Simon Emmett

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To celebrate the 300th anniversary of the death of the violinist and composer Corelli, the chamber ensemble Orpheus Britannicus presented a programme entirely of selections from his 48 trio-sonatas and 12 violin sonatas.

It is a pity that Corelli’s music is not so popular today as that of his Italian contemporaries Vivaldi and Albinoni for, perhaps unlike these two, Corelli was a master of the craft and skill of composition.

The programme was well chosen: eight contrasting trio-sonatas from his four opuses, and two violin sonatas from his Op. 5 collection.

The two sonatas chosen were the most technically demanding of the set, each ably played in turn by Kelly McCusker and Theresa Caudle, with added stylish ornamentation

In the trio-sonatas I felt that, although the violins had plenty of French polish, their playing perhaps lacked some of the extrovert Italian flair, a characteristic which was ably supplied in the continuo department of Joseph Crouch (cello) and Andrew Arthur on harpsichord.

As one contemporary source put it: ‘The French aim to flatter and tickle ... the Italians are more lively in their productions.’

This was an excellent concert, much appreciated by the audience of 60 or more.

IAN GRAHAM-JONES