It would be an understatment to say that Arcangelo Corelli was well known in the 18th Century. His music, in particular his op. 5 violin sonatas, were some of the most disseminated compositions of the century. Not only were they widely played, they were also widely criticised.
Francesco Maria Veracini, an admirer of Corelli, felt the need to revise and publish his own version, making ‘corrections,’ dropping movements and re-writing others. Published as the Dissertationi on the op. 5 of Corelli, Veracini put a distinct mark on the original.
LIke Veracini, Francesco Geminiani also published music that was based on Corelli’s op. 5 violin sonatas. Instead of revising them, he added parts, thus making them playable for an entire orchestra. His Concerti Grossi can be seen as one of the highest forms of praise for Corelli.
The Italians were not the only ones who saw Corelli as the epitome of composers. The French also thought he was ‘très magnifique.’ François Couperin placed him on the same level as the beloved Jean-Baptiste Lully. In Couperin’s instrumental “Apotheosis of Corelli,” he tells the story of how Corelli ascends Mount Parnassus and ultimately becomes a god.
Georg Philipp Telemann, like many of his German contemporaries, also greatly admired Corelli and his music. This is most obvious in his trio sonatas entitled Corellisante, which incorporated Corelli-like characteristics alongside French ones.
Our release of the week features the first complete period instrument recording of George Frederic Handel’s opera Semele. Christian Curnyn directs the Early Opera Company in this release from the Chandos label.
Here’s a video of Ensemble Rebel performing a Corelli work from the Dorian release Corellisante: