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The Classical Reviewer (UK) - A new release from OUR Recordings of six of Corelli’s opus 5 sonatas in performances by Michala Petri and Mahan Esfahani that are an absolute delight

November 23, 2014

The Classical Reviewer

The Classical Reviewer (UK)
A new release from OUR Recordings of six of Corelli’s opus 5 sonatas in performances by Michala Petri and Mahan Esfahani that are an absolute delight

Arcangelo Corelli’s (1653-1713) twelve sonatas for violin and harpsichord, Op. 5 were published in Rome in 1700 and dedicated to the Electress Sophie Charlotte of Brandenburg. The first six of these sonatas are sonatas da Chiesa (church sonata) and the second six sonatas da camera (chamber sonata).
Renowned recorder player Michala Petri joins with the critically acclaimed harpsichordist, Mahan Esfahani to perform an 18th century transcription for recorder and harpsichord of the last six of Corelli’s Op.5 sonatas on a new recording from OUR Recordings
In fact these artists do not keep rigidly to the edition published by London publisher, John Walsh but, where appropriate follow Corelli’s 1700 version as well as adding their own spontaneity. The name John Walsh will of course be familiar as the publisher of many of Handel’s works.
Michala Petri and Mahan Esfahani open with the Sonata in G minor, Op. 5, No. 12, 'La Follia', perhaps Corelli’s most famous piece. This receives a particularly lovely performance, opening with Petri’s pure toned recorder around which Esfahani provides some lovely fluent decorative chords, before leading to some wonderfully fast passages where both players show their considerable dexterity. Their tempi are spot on with some beautifully languid slow passages that perfectly offset the more dynamic moments. A terrific performance.
The Preludio – Vivace of Sonata in G minor, Op.5 No.7 opens joyfully, these players adding a lovely dancing flow and sparkle before the Corrente – Allegro which moves forward at a fine pace with some very fine intricate playing from both Petri and Esfahani. These two artists provide terrific ensemble. Petri’s tone and shaping of notes is impressive as is her incredible fluency. There is a spacious, beautifully laid outSarabande – Largo before the final Giga – Allegro, a lively buoyant movement that moves along with a tremendous rhythmic bounce. This is exceptionally fine playing.
There is a really fine opening to the Sonata in C major, Op. 5 No.9 a Preludio - Largo with Petri’s lovely tone providing a flowing melody over Esfahani’s florid beautifully decorative accompaniment with lovely shaping of phrases. There follows another rhythmically buoyant movement, the Giga – Allegro an absolute joy before the Adagio where Esfahani’s beautifully laid out accompaniment provides the perfect foil to Petri’s beautifully decorated playing. Petri and Esfahani really move forward in the concluding Tempo di Gavotta – Allegro with terrific ensemble, fluency and agility, playing of the highest calibre.
With the Preludio - Adagio of Sonata in G major, Op.5 No. 11 the tempo is perfectly judged, with Petri’s longer phrases leading over Esfahani’s nicely paced harpsichord accompaniment to perfection. TheAllegro is a joy with Petri’s well pointed phrases and Esfahani’s wonderful accompaniment. There is another short linking Adagio with beautifully decorated passages before the light and joyful Vivace. TheGavotta - Allegro reveals more of these artists fine affinity with great ensemble and understanding
Petri and Esfahani bring a lovely long breathed flow to the Preludio - Largo of the Sonata in G minor, Op.5 No.8, Petri providing a lovely tone. There is a beautifully light and fluent Allemanda – Allegro and a gently flowing Sarabanda - Largo that moves forward so naturally before the concluding Giga - Allegrowhich has a lovely spring in its step as well as more fine interplay between these soloists.
These two fine players conclude with the Sonata in G major, op.5 No.10 where in the Preludio - Adagioharpsichordist, Mahan Esfahani again sets off Michala Petri’s lovely fluent playing so well. The Allemanda - Allegro trots along at a lovely pace before the beautifully done Sarabanda - Largo with these artists keeping a slow tempo and bringing out every little detail. A brief buoyant Gavotta - Allegro precedes the final Giga - Allegro giving a terrific conclusion, full of life and buoyancy, to these sonatas.
These players make an absolutely terrific duo in transcriptions that seem to fall so naturally to these instruments. The very fine recording from Garnisonskirken, Copenhagen, Denmark gives a nice acoustic around the players whilst retaining detail and clarity. There are informative notes from Mahan Esfahani in the nicely illustrated booklet. There is a small error on the booklet and rear of the case that gives the C major sonata No. 9 as being Op.7 where, of course it is Op.5. This is a small matter on a release that is an absolute delight. November 25th 2014

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