GEMINIANI: Cello Sonatas – Gaetano Nasillo, cello; Jesper Christensen, harpsichord; Tobias Bonz, cello – Pan Classics

by | Dec 3, 2011 | Classical CD Reviews

GEMINIANI: Cello Sonatas – Gaetano Nasillo, cello; Jesper Christensen, harpsichord; Tobias Bonz, cello (basso continuo) – Pan Classics PC 10232, 57:58 [Distr. by Qualiton] ****:
Italian Francesco Geminiani (c. 1680-1762), Baroque composer, violinist and music theorist, studied under Alessandro Scarlatti and Arcangelo Corelli. He composed his six sonatas for violincello and basso continuo, Op. 5, in 1746.  He also transcribed these for violin, since the publication of his music brought him income.
Nary a word about the performers are in the notes which are in German, English and French. Regardless, they are clearly front rank musicians who perform with sincerity and aplomb in a proper period style on two eighteenth century cellos and a modern harpsichord. They keep matters moving at a brisk pace, or when appropriate, in a slow, more stately manner, but never sluggishly.
Geminiani believed in a long melodic line. He also believed in a prominent bass where the bass and the solo cello melodically crisscross. Needless to say, this innovation was not initially welcomed by conservative audiences. He also emphasized a freedom of musical expressiveness, not just music imitating the natural world or dances, but rather music expressing human emotions, imitations of voice and non-ostentatious display.
And that is the way these artists, recorded in Pisa (Italy), present these mini-creations. Inventive and expressive as these sonatas are, they are more pleasant than profound. Nasillo and Christensen (who wrote the notes) along with Bonz never allow these four-movement sonatas to turn into eighteenth century wallpaper music or to put you to sleep.
Sonically, the proper amount of ambiance adds to the realism of this stereo recording. The harpsichord is never too loud, overpowering the two cellos. The way the sounds of the two cellos intertwine, in a distinct, yet unified (as to musical line) manner is captured to perfection. Recorded in 2000, it is hard to understand why it took until 2011 for release.
Recommended to Baroque fanciers, as well as cello lovers – without hesitation.
—Zan Furtwangler

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