Handel: Complete Violin Sonatas
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Audio CD, January 11, 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
Now, recording the "complete" anything can be a questionable enterprise. The violin sonatas for which Handel's authorship is undisputed are five in number. In addition to these, Manze and Egarr have decided to record several spurious works, some of lesser merit; these tend to diminish the effect of the whole and give the impression of having been included simply to justify the title of the CD. (Indeed, Manze fiddles through these selections in an off-hand, careless manner, as if he himself isn't convinced of their worth.) My second contention is with the absence of a cello or other sustaining bass instrument. In his historical note Manze does not provide a serious justification for omitting the cello beyond the fact that it was done in Handel's time. I miss the strength in the bass line that a sustaining instrument can provide, especially in contrapuntal material, but also in the slow movements, where there is a lot of right-hand "doodling" with no firm "bottom".
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There are at least three performances of these sonatas available on CD at this time, a bonanza of musical choice. In addition to this performance by Andrew Manze and Richard Egarr, there's another by Hiro Kurosaki and Bill Christie, and yet another by violinist Rachal Barton. Each CD has attractions; you might use the "sample" function of amazon before you choose, for choose you must!
Kurosaki's violin playing is more varied, more imaginative, and (dare I say) more baroque. However, Christie's harpsichord continuo, though utterly authentic, is awfully sparse, hardly a partnership with the violin at all.
Manze plays the four sonatas which he regards as genuine Handel masterworks very masterfully indeed. Manze is not the subtlest of baroque fiddlers; I'd love to hear what Biondi or Holloway would do. Also, he pays scant respect to those other sonatas that he clearly regards as inauthentic Handel. He plays them perfunctorily and with occasional lapses of tuning. Richard Egarr's harpsichord continuo is expressive and solid throughout.
The chief attraction of Rachel Barton's performance is that the continuo is enriched by the cello of JM Rozendaal. Not to denigrate Ms Barton's fiddling! She plays wonderfully, but perhaps less specially than Manze or Kurosaki.
All in all, you can't go wrong with any of the three. Trust your own ears.
The grace and elegance with which these endearing sonatas are played is simply astounding. Both Manze and Egarr ought to be given knighthoods for this CD. It just has no peers. I find this supremely enjoyable CD to be an absolutely essential part of any serious baroque music fan's collection. The liner notes provide great background information of each of the sonatas, even those of less than certain authenticity, with a meticulousness that could concieveably allow for acceptable academic referencing, which is saying something!
With a careful attention to detail, the performers have given us a brilliant interpretation (I am willing to say the BEST I have ever heard, as obsequious as that may sound), of these works, in what must be considered a benchmark of high standards. Five out of five, for the purchase of the decade.
Please get this and enjoy seated with a beautiful view, libation, and cigar. Feel free to shed a tear as you participate in this truly beautiful and wonderous audible experience.
Every bit as good as Buxtehude, Corelli, and Tartini !!!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
There is something lacking here as other reviewers have observed. It sounds muted. Not vibrant. I find that I do not choose to play it often.Published 9 months ago by Mark Town
Andrew Manze writes nearly as well as he plays. The short essay he provides to accompany this disc is knowledgeable, clear and witty. Read morePublished 11 months ago by DAVID BRYSON
In the first place, on the whole, the rendition of the harpsicord (cembalo) is weak and the recording too much resonat and blurred, also too much on the background. Read morePublished on October 21, 2008 by Uncle Freak