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The English Concert and Ensemble 415 perform Geminiani Concertos

Francesco Geminiani's concertos after Corelli with the English Concert (Harmonia Mundi) and Ensemble 415 (Zig-Zag Territories).

The English Concert

The immense popularity of Arcangelo Corelli’s music in England during the first half of the 18th Century spawned a veritable cult among gentleman amateurs. Such fanaticism and demand was met by Italian composer Francesco Geminiani with an arrangement of Corelli’s opus 5 violin sonatas for orchestra. The resulting concertos are a starting point for the English Concert’s new Harmonia Mundi recording entitled Mr. Corelli in London, which includes further arrangements of Geminiani’s music into recorder concertos.

Led by the dynamic English conductor Laurence Cummings, the orchestra’s approach is not only beautifully realized, but special recognition must go to recorder soloist Maurice Steger, who manages to break all previous speed records for Corelli performance, setting a new type of standard in the process.

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Ensemble 415

Whereas the English Concert chose to make their own arrangements of Geminiani’s concertos, Ensemble 415 recorded them as is on the Zig-Zag Territories label, allowing their natural beauty and invention to come through as the group has always done with the Italian baroque repertoire. The result is a wonderfully adorned performance that allows both Corelli and Geminiani to shine.

If there is a definitive recording of the Corelli/Geminiani concertos, it is Ensemble 415’s, without a doubt. The performance captures the listener with its poeticism, wisdom, and sheer jubilation. Under the direction of Chiara Banchini, whose violin playing is a true marvel, the recording is one of the high points in the ensemble’s discography and one worth adding to your collection.

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Bernard Gordillo

Bernard Gordillo was born in Managua, Nicaragua, and raised in New Orleans. He holds degrees from Centenary College of Louisiana, the Early Music Institute at Indiana University, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London). Bernard also writes and hosts the Harmonia Early Music Podcast.

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