Born in Newcastle in 1709, Charles Avison has always been linked with the concerto grosso as a style and he was also one of the most prolific British composers of this genre.
Many of his published concertos enjoyed a considerable amount of popularity, both during his lifetime and immediately after his demise in 1770, but his other works, particularly the trio and keyboard sonatas were left to languish in the cupboard of some forlorn room for a long time.
This superb double CD set is a fine attempt to try and put the record straight. The Six Sonatas, Op. 1 appear to have been written circa 1736 and are principally inspired by those of Corelli. They all employ the four-movement "sonata da chiesa" model and all but one are based in a minor key, reflecting the idea that church music should be grave and serious. In terms of key, his Op. 8 differ considerably from the Op. 1 with 4 sonatas based in the major key, with some of the movements having a double "ritornello".
All of Avison's sonatas are highly polished and superbly crafted pieces reflecting the refined tastes of the time, and these performances are commanding and fascinating on all counts. Indeed the poetic commitment of the soloists gives the music an added impetus which is so vital for such a fragile repertoire. Another gem of an issue in the ever expanding Avison Divine Art discography.
Copyright © 2009, Gerald Fenech