Label: Philips - 6769 018 • Format: 3x, Vinyl LP Box Set • Country: Netherlands • Genre: Classical • Style: Baroque
A fine exploration of Avison's under-explored legacy and his masterful reworkings of Domenico Scarlatti's existing works. In the unlikely surroundings of 18th century Newcastle, local musical entrepreneur Charles Avison made a name for himself with his Baroque string concertos, including this collection based on existing works some of Persischer Marsch - Willi Boskovsky, Wiener Philharmoniker - Strauss-Concert Met Willi Boskovsky now lost by Italy's Domenico Scarlatti.
While rather short-changing the fiery vibrancy of Scarlatti's brilliant harpsichord writing, Avison's arrangements and re-workings are never less than engaging and stylish. However, the real trump card is the quality with which they're played here. Under leader-director Pavlo Beznosiuk, springy rhythms combine with a lovely pliable way with the music's pacing and phrasing.
This delightful two disc set is a welcome addition to the catalogue where these concertos have been sparsely represented of late. After having tackled similar works for Divine Art, the Avison Ensemble now lend their talented vein to these Scarlatti arrangements by their namesake composer and the result Neville Marriner* - 12 Concerti Gro quite enthralling. Each concerto is a joy to listen to and although the music is brought together from other works, there is an innate feel that everything is complete and should be "there".
Pavlo Beznosiuk directs these works with consummate panache and his violin playing is also impeccable as can be expected from this old warhorse of this sort of repertoire. He is also ably supported by his players who are also seasoned campaigners in such music. Divine Art's presentation is as usual, impeccable with detailed and informative notes and an excellent recording to boot.
I am keen for more music from this source, perhaps some Geminiani or Corelli which are also quite under-represented in the repertoire and which would benefit from such a fine approach.
There are fine booklet notes to this very enjoyable pair of CDs. They are by Simon D. Fleming, who reminds us that English interest in the music of Domenico Scarlatti was largely a product of the encounter between Thomas Roseingrave and the composer, in Venicearound One early English admirer of Scarlatti's work was Charles Avison. In he published a single Concerto in Seven Parts done from the Lessons of Sig r Domenico Scarlattia publication sufficiently well-received to encourage the publication in the following year of the set of twelve concertos recorded here.
In his Essay on Musical Expressionfirst published in London inAvison included a footnote on Domenico Scarlatti my quotation is taken from the third edition ofp. He praises him as 'among the great masters of this age', going on to add that 'the invention of his subjects or airsand the beautiful chain of modulation in all these piecesare peculiarly his own: and though in many places, the finest passages are greatly disguised with capricious divisionsyet, upon the whole, they are original and masterly'.
In his adaptations of Scarlatti's keyboard works as materials for a set of concertos, Avison operates precisely with that mingled air of admiration and reservation he expresses in the passage just quoted. The very nature of the exercise registers his delight in Scarlatti's music; but the freedom with which he treats his source, adjusting tempi here and there often quite considerablyrewriting harmonies and adding and omitting material also suggests a composer who doesn't feel confined by the work of an admired predecessor.
Most of the movements in these concertos are based on individual sonatas by Scarlatti, their combination into four movement Neville Marriner* - 12 Concerti Gro being entirely Avison's work. Sometimes sonatas are transposed; some movements nine in total, out of forty eight have no identified source and may We’ll Meet Again - Pantera - Before We Were Cowboys Avison's own work.
They stand up to the comparison with Scarlatti very well. These are fine, loving performances. The slower movements Andante - Charles Avison - Academy Of St. Martin-in-the-Fields* an attractive lyricism, the faster ones have a crisply rhythmic quality - though I wouldn't have minded hearing the continuo section a bit more prominently.
Particular pleasures include the effervescent Allegro and dignified Largo from Concerto No. Pavlo Beznosiuk and his ensemble have done the memory of Charles Avison great service with these and other recordings.
There is understanding and affectionate respect in all that they do with the music. Charles Avison apparently studied with Francesco Geminiani in London before being appointed organist at St. Newcastle; he later organised a series of subscription concerts in both Newcastle and Durham. Apart from being a prolific composer of mainly instrumental works, he also wrote on music, his most significant publication in that area being the Essay on Musical Expression Apart from writing his own concerti grossi, Avison arranged for that genre Corelli's Op.
Avison's set of 12 Concertos after Scarlatti was published in I have yet to hear the Opp. Avison has used four sonatas for each concerto, forming a typical slow-fast-slaw-fast pattern; his concertino mostly comprises two violins, of which the second player here is uncredited Joanne Green, perhaps, - the first of the five named violinists in the ensemble after Beznosiuk.
There have also been some transpositions and slight alterations, but by and large these are faithful transcriptions of the keyboard originals. The results, especially in performances of this calibre, are such that the listener is Neville Marriner* - 12 Concerti Gro more fully to comprehend the character of each sonata to the extent that he or she returns to the originals with fresh Neville Marriner* - 12 Concerti Gro — surely the measure of success of any good transcription or arrangement.
I especially enjoyed the joyful exuberance of KK13 in Concerto Neville Marriner* - 12 Concerti Gro. Apart from the solo work, the ripieno strings together with the harpsichord continuo provide not only solid support but often demonstrate real independence in accordance with Scarlatti's original writing, though never at the expense of tightness of ensemble.
The recorded sound is excellent. Simon D. Fleming's booklet notes provide much useful information on the genesis and reception of these fascinating and colourful works. A review of this thoroughly enjoyable and technically first class recording of the Twelve Concerti Grossi has already appeared on this site, written by Brian Wilson. He went into some detail regarding the origin of the work and also relating the provenance of the movements derived from Scarlatti.
As he says, Divine Art makes all this crystal clear in its booklet notes, fine ones by the way, as is by now usual. I'm going to concentrate instead on the many virtues of both music and performance and to recommend once again this fast rising ensemble. Beznosiuk has been a leading original instrument practitioner for a good long while now and his experience in the repertory and his direction of The Avison Ensemble is evident at every turn.
Each Concerto Grosso is cast in four movements, of the standard slow-fast-slow-fast kind. From the A major, which starts the set one is aware of the lithe sonority cultivated by the ensemble, of the interplay between the strings and the two violin concertino and of the well balanced weight throughout — the orchestra is with the harpsichord played by Roger Hamilton. There is also warmth, as one can feel in the Amoroso of the same A major work.
Where definition is required it duly appears, as in the etched bass line of the Allegro of No. The Allegro of No. The ensuing Largo is stately — Avison is good at touches of pomposo — whereas the opening Largo of No. Michael Nyman should get his hands on it. These kinds of pleasures and virtues abound in this two CD set. The wistfully withdrawn Siciliana of No. And note too the daring dynamics cultivated by Beznosiuk and the ensemble in the finale of No.
In short this is another fine exploration of Avison's under explored legacy. The ensemble that bears his name does him further honour in this excellently recorded survey. Charles Avison was one of the 18th century figures who helped to promote Domenico Scarlatti's keyboard compositions in England. He did this Andante - Charles Avison - Academy Of St. Martin-in-the-Fields* his arrangements of a selection of Scarlatti's works, partly gleaned from Thomas Roseingrave's edition of the former's pieces issued in London in and from an earlier publication of From these, as well as from various other manuscript sources, Avison compiled and arranged about fifty movements of Scarlatti and grouped them into twelve concerti grossi for strings and continuo.
These were published in and By this time Avison had become an established musical figure in the northeast of England, having built his reputation in the s in London, where he was said to have studied under Geminiani.
It was also in London that he attracted lucrative offers of posts in Dublin, Edinburgh and York, the latter as organist at York Minster. He turned down all of these in order to return to his native Newcastle intaking up positions at the churches of St John and St Nicholas, where he remained Satellite Blues - AC/DC - Stiff Upper Lip his death in Avison wrote a great deal of instrumental music, much of it published, mostly in the traditional Italian style of Corelli and Geminiani, Le Mépris - Ziko - À LAncienne Vol 2 some in forms that were more adventurous for his time — there were, for example, keyboard sonatas with obbligato Interlude: Punanny - OPM - Menace To Sobriety and cello, a forerunner of the classical piano trio of Haydn and Mozart, and also keyboard quartets employing the same configuration.
He also composed a steady stream of concerti grossi from the s until shortly before his death; during Andante - Charles Avison - Academy Of St. Martin-in-the-Fields* time, Avison wrote a total of about fifty concerti, making him one of the most important 18 th century English composers in the genre. The Scarlatti arrangements seem to have been a successful venture, and Avison's subscription list, which included leading musical figures of the day such as Maurice Greene, James Nares and Avison's former teacher Geminiani, shows that his arrangements were at least well distributed.
Avison seems to have been a socially committed man: he taught, organised concerts and orchestras, had a great number of influential friends, wrote reviews, pamphlets, and subscribed to music — which was how he came across the Scarlatti pieces in the first place. In them he clearly saw something new and exciting, worth introducing to his audience and also, perhaps somewhat unashamedly, something that could be developed further. By this means he encouraged the appreciation of the Scarlatti originals, and was able to popularize both the works and his own name at the same time.
So what do these concertos sound like? It was most interesting to listen to them. At times it felt as if I already knew the pieces quite well, and then the music would suddenly veer into another direction for a moment, before returning to the point from which it broke off, into more familiar territory.
At other times it was barely recognisable — until I realised it was actually familiar music played at half speed! Sometimes the melody and tempo V.
Allegro Appassionata - Presto - Beethoven*, Camerata Nordica, Terje Tønnesen - The Late Quartets Scarlatti's but the accompanying harmonies are fresh. It was reminiscent of piano lessons, of pieces that were learnt wrong and should have been played in another way. All this, of course, has to do with how Avison handled the original templates and adjusted them to suit his judgment and his personal taste. Many listeners will be familiar with the original Scarlatti sonatas, and they may well react to the music as I Chez Les Yé-Yé - Serge Gainsbourg - DAutres Nouvelles Des Étoiles (DVD), but for those less familiar with Scarlatti, this may be a new and revealing experience.
New because Avison is still — probably for many — a relatively recent acquaintance, and revealing because the musical arrangements are exceptionally well composed. As the CD booklet points out, composed. As with any arrangements, Avison's give us an insight into how he — an actual contemporary of Scarlatti's — viewed the latter's works Neville Marriner* - 12 Concerti Gro dealt with the raw materials laid before him.
Avison's arrangements were widely known, given their long subscription list and the fact that they were referred to in various contemporary sources, most notably Laurence Sterne's The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandybut there is no evidence that they reached Scarlatti himself — it would have been interesting to know what he thought about them. The Avison Ensemble, originally formed to champion the composer's works, is here represented by a dozen players, an ensemble close in size to that which Avison would probably have had in Newcastle in the mid s.
Pavlo Beznosiuk's exquisite and highly distinctive violin tone is finely balanced by a shimmering and polished string band, with precision and elegance being their obvious strengths. Pianissimo passages are a delight, as is the deftly executed, if at times slightly calculated, ornamentation, and the whole ensemble is sensitively supported throughout by a buoyant but gutsy continuo team.
This is exemplary baroque string playing, and at its most tasteful. This recording contains something for everybody — the Scarlatti enthusiast, the musicologist, the teacher and the student, as well as string and keyboard players. This excellent pair of CDs follows hard on the heels of Divine Art's release of the Avison Ensemble's recording of their eponymous composer's Opp.
If anything, this is finer music than those concertos — hardly surprising when the originals were sonatas by none other than Domenico Scarlatti — and the performances and recording are equally fine. The London publication in Nocturnality - Various - No-R-Mal II 42 Scarlatti sonatas provided Avison's inspiration in arranging movements Andante - Charles Avison - Academy Of St.
Martin-in-the-Fields* several of those as concerti grossi. His excuse, if one were needed, was the difficulty of performance of the music in its keyboard original state, but he couldn't help also preening himself on having Gonzalez - Torero off the Mask which concealed their natural Beauty and Expression".
I beg leave Andante - Charles Avison - Academy Of St. Martin-in-the-Fields* to get into the thorny question of the adequacy or otherwise of the originals — performances of the calibre of those of Richard Lester on his complete Nimbus cycle would suggest that there was little amiss — but the music certainly sounds more varied and probably more amenable to most modern ears in its orchestral dress.
More recently, Tommasini had the same idea in his arrangement as a Castle Rock - Various - Jazz Spectrum for Diaghilev of Scarlatti's music in The Good-humoured Ladies. Avison didn't orchestrate whole concertos; some, like No. The Divine Art booklet makes the provenance of each movement clear, also indicating with an asterisk movements transposed to a different key, with a dagger where the movement Neville Marriner* - 12 Concerti Gro been shortened or altered, and with two asterisks where the source is unknown.
Most of those unknowns, mainly slow movements, were probably Avison's own compositions — sounding in no way out of place in the company of the Scarlatti-derived movements.
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