AAM/Manze on Harmonia Mundi This release from the Academy of Ancient Music can during a ripe relationship between violinist Manze, harpsichordist Egarr, and saw releases of Handel violin sonatas, the Handel concerti grossi, among other "standards" in the baroque repertoire. Why record what already was available? They were having success in concerts, and their contributions added to a growing appetite and awareness for modern-day perfection coupled with more insight into Baroque historical performance. Why not? There is more than Bach. What's interesting about this release is the range of abilities of the ensemble. Long-time listeners of the AAM (let's stretch back to their recording of the Bach Brandenburg Concerti, or their Mozart collection), know them as a careful group, hardly known for passion. Concerto 12 in this release, a re-write of Corelli's La Folia for violin and continuo, was a preview of what we'd get later with Manze alone with Egarr in the Corelli op.5. Incredible. When this concerto is done, most of the AAM was left in sweat, some ladies' hair with pins that had come out, and once the microphones had stopped recording, someone was rubbing their wrists. Manze had managed to inject some real energy and passion into the AAM. Much like he has been able to do of late with the English Concert. What, again is so interesting, is that we can choose another concerto, let's say the D-minor Concerto #6, and while the tempos are all appropriately brisk, the energy is there, but passion not so much. Included on the release are two sonatas: one, a Geminiani-doctored Corelli sonata (#9 from op. 5) with cello as the only continuo. I enjoyed the texture and the performance both, where Manze is paired with David Watkin. The second sonata is a Geminiani original, from his op.5, no. 2. If you like Corelli, this release is 90% him. It's his opus 5 sonatas for violin turned into concerti grossi. In some places, Geminiani does well to dress up Corelli's textures, and in others, you realize he's left a lot alone (solo violin playing with continuo). I prefer Corelli's op. 5 alone, and especially so, Manze's recording with Egarr. But this is nonetheless a very finely done project nevertheless, and earns my recommendation.