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Trio Sonatas

Accademia Arcadia

$23   (Australian dollars)


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Four of Australia’s foremost early musicians join forces to present this marvellous CD of baroque trio sonatas by Corelli, Purcell and Leclair. Rachel Beesley and Julia Fredersdorf have been playing recently in Europe’s best early music ensembles, such as Les Arts Florissants, La Petite Bande and Le Parlement de Musique, and also with Australia’s most celebrated period ensembles such as The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Antipodes. Together with outstanding locally-based musicians baroque cellist Rosanne Hunt and keyboardist Jacqueline Ogeil, these two violinists give scintillating performances of this all-too-rarely-heard repertoire.

Sonata in A minor op 1 no 4
Sonata in E minor, op 2 no 10
Sonata (Ciacona) in G major, op 2 no 12
Sonata in G minor
Sonata (Ciaccona) in G minor
LeclairPremière Recréation de Musique, op 6


An unusually strong trio sonata program from a relatively new ensemble, Accademia Arcadia. The trio sonata was generally composed for two violins plus basso continuo, which was usually rendered with two instruments like a gamba and harpsichord. Corelli's sonatas are a bit unusual in that he specifies the use of an organ – for example. In his opuses 1 and 3. He also requests, for the Opus 2 set, that the bass line be played either with a string bass instrument or with a keyboard, but not both.

The musicians open their program with a sonata from Corelli's Opus 1, followed by two from Opus 2, the second a chaconne. The rest of the program consists of two sonatas from Henry Purcell, one of those also a chaconne, and a work that appears in a collection of Jean-Marie Leclair's sonatas but is not strictly a sonata but rather a collection of dance movements, very French in style.

Thus, the program is a fascinating look at the trio sonata from three different countries Italy, England, and France, though Leclair's work was published a good 40 to 50 years after Corelli's and Purcell's.

Sometimes trio sonatas can be boring and ho-hum, but not so here. The playing is vigorous and commanding, the sound full and strong. I note with interest that one member of the ensemble, Julia Fredersdorff, was for awhile in Enrico Gatti's class at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. Mr Gatti is the violinist who recently recorded some Vivaldi trio sonatas that I much enjoyed (M/J 2007). This is an excellent release, and Accademia Arcadia, an Australian ensemble, is a group to watch.
American Record Guide

Corelli perfected many of the characteristic sounds of baroque violin writing: the slow sweet chains of suspended notes over a walking bass and spirited energised cascades in faster movements. Arcadia realise both here, with beautiful sensitivity to style and impeccable intonation.

They alternate between both in Trio Sonatas from Corelli's Opus 1 and 2, with a fresh, well coloured sound without affectation. The last of these, Opus 2, No. 12, is an extended Ciacona, a baroque form built on the varied spinning of upper voice decorations over a repeated bass and Arcadia pair this with a splendid extended example of the same form by Purcell.

The disc is filled out with a slighter Purcell sonata, followed by an exemplar of what in its day was seen as a great rival of the Italian style, a stylishly played French suite by Leclair (Opus 6). This is baroque playing of the highest order.
Peter McCallum
Sydney Morning Herald January 2008

This is a beautifully played, splendidly recorded recital of treasures from the Baroque era, based on the trio sonata, the popular form of music making in the period.

The disc provides a fascinating insight into the divergent styles of musical creation indulged in by composers of three nationalities. Each of the first two Corelli sonatas contains four short movements, some lyrically simple, others of considerable rhythmic vitality (including a vivacious presto fugue in the Op. 1 Sonata). The Op.2/12 piece is a single movement chaconne with its variations built on a four-note descending phrase.

Despite his assertion that he was determined to emulate the Italian masters of the period, Purcell's contrapuntal complexity is robustly English in character. This first of the G minor sonata is a five-movement fugue-dominated piece, the second a chaconne in which the harmonic writing is more much complex than the corresponding Corelli work.

As we might expect, Leclair's contribution, effectively a twelve movement suite, is built on the dance rhythms prevalent at the time and is replete with Gallic charm and elegance.

It goes without saying that the musicians of Arcadia manifest the differing national characteristics ideally.

John Barns Libretto October/November 2007

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 TP (1-900)



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