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Geminiani: Concerto Grossi, op. 3

Fabio Biondi and Europa Galante: Geminiani op. 3 Concerti Grossi, (p) 1997 Opus 111. Geminiani op. 3 Geminiani isn't as well known as Corelli and Vivaldi, two Italian contemporaries whose music might sound similar to some ears to Geminiani's. While I think of Tartini as looking forward to the classical era, in Geminiani, we get music slightly older-sounding, rooted in the harmonies of father Corelli, but with some of the fire and dash found in Vivaldi or Locatelli. He was known in his time more as a violinist and theorist than composer. Among Geminiani's best known work are the concertos he bases upon Corelli's violin sonatas, op. 5. This recording opens with the most famous example from this collection, variations on "La Follia," then presents Geminiani's collection of six concertos from op. 3. Biondi and company make a good recording, but not as good as their later work on Virgin Veritas. I prefer more intimate mikings and this one gets a tad muddy during louder, full-ensemble passages. At times the continuo team, included here with both harpsichord and organ (a nice combination), get lost in the thick string texture. Biondi, as usual, injects a lot of dynamics into the playing, both alone, and with his ensemble. His reading of La Follia is full of energy, but lacks the ultimate drama that Manze brings out in his later recording with the Academy of Ancient Music. Within the op. 3 collection there are some nice moments. I prefer Geminiani's concertos written in the minor mode, some going beyond the contrapuntal themes employed by Corelli, some quick sassy, such as the ultimate track on disk, the Allegro from op. 3., no. 6 in E minor. Geminiani writes solid, mid-to-late century Baroque music in the Italian manner. It may be one of the better recordings of his op. 3. collection. Compared to other Biondi recordings, polish, mostly due to the quality of the recording suffer, but don't prevent this from becoming a rewarding listen.

Bach: Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248

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