Maestro Corelli’s Violins

Music by Valentini, Montanari and Mossi
Collegium Musicum 90, Simon Standage v
Chandos CHAN0818

The three composers on this disc (Antonio Montanari, Giovanni Mossi, and Giuseppe Valentini) all played in the premiere of Handel’s La Resurrezione di Nostro Signor Gesù Cristo, directed by Corelli. I think the title is a stretch (the composers were technically Corelli’s violins… for one performance), but for performances this good I’m willing to accept some marketing frippery.

The recording focuses on concerti grossi, and is divided equally between the three. Remarkably, it seems Valentini got to the idea of the concerto grosso before Corelli. Valentini’s set was published four years earlier, and there’s a theory that his success spurred Corelli into having his pieces published.

The liner notes argue (successfully, I feel) that some of these works show the evolution of the concerto grosso from Corelli to Handel; they are passionate and varied works that probably aren’t as well-known as they should be. Collegium Musicum 90 and Simon Standage perform with gusto, though Standage’s intonation slips on several occasions.

Particularly clean orchestral playing makes a highlight of the textures of the counterpoint driving these works. This is especially audible in Mossi’s Concerto in G Minor, since it’s in an impressive nine separate parts. Rehearsing must have been a pain, but the results are scintillating. A disc of rarely-heard composers that can’t fail to please fans of the Baroque.