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Fanfare Magazine: 39:3 (11-22/2016) 
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"Urgently recommended."

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Reviewer: Robert Maxham

Violinist Boris Begelman, cellist Ludovico Minasi, and harpsichord player Alexandra Koreneva have assembled, largely from the Georg Philipp Telemann’s opp. 1 and 2 as well as from manuscript sources, a program of violin sonatas that Begelman considers to be written for that instrument rather than for flute. He records them here for the first time and includes one of the solo violin fantasies as well. In his notes, Begelman remarks the influence of Arcangelo Corelli on Telemann and Telemann’s infatuation with all things Italian, as evidenced by his publishing some of these pieces under the name of Giorgio Melante (“Melante” being roughly an Italian-sounding anagram of his own last name. The admiration for Corelli appears unmistakably in the four movements of the Sonata in G Major, TWV 41:G1, but Begelman and his comrades in the Arsenale Sonoro play the finale so explosively as to suggest a Corelli filtered through (or stiffened by?) the period performance movement’s sensibilities. In general, these movements, especially the opening slow ones of the G-Major Sonata and the one in D Minor, TWV 41:d5, could almost fit into one of Corelli’s, melodically or harmonically or both. Begelman draws a somewhat astringent sound from a violin made by Louis Moitessier in the 1790s, but provides flowing ornamentation where appropriate and keeps the music moving without adopting extreme tempos—in part through sharp and brightly rhythmic ornamentation. The D-Minor Sonata’s Giga, like so many of the others, flashes with half-remembered phrases from Corelli’s sonatas.

Begelman gives a richly suggestive account of the Siciliana from the Fantasia in B Minor, so probing as to make it seem a pity that he didn’t include more of these solo works on the program or at least to make listeners hope that he will record all of them. His combination of articulation and ornamentation lend these pieces sharp metric definition—and drama—in the fast movements and his tonal command warms the slow one.

The program resumes with the sonatas for violin and continuo, beginning with the Sonata in G Minor, TWV 41:g1, the first movement of which he graces with a personal mix of ornamentation and subtle pauses. Here and in the ensuing Allegro, as well as in the Vivace finale, Telemann seems to have moved a bit farther from Melante to Telemann, even if the Corelli never quite seems to have left the vicinity. Of course, Arsenale Sonoro can summon his spirit like so many mediums, and bring him at will in and out of the conversation. The Affetuoso of the Sonata in D Minor, TWV 41:d6 introduces, in this performance, a musical sensibility more appropriate to Telemann’s era than to Corelli’s, while the following Allegro recalls Bach; but Corelli returns in the slow movement and even in the finale. The Sonata in A Major, TWV 41:A1, presenting four dances in the manner of the sonata da camera (Allemanda, Corrente, Sarabanda, and Giga), begins with a melody that incorporates melodic leaps that sound almost like a sort of ornamentation, stretching and pulling the melody. The ensemble gives a compelling account of this Allemanda, as it does as well of the Corrente, with its old-fashioned sequences, which they update in their spiky manner. The Giga sounds like the Bible in modern prose in their engaging reading. The Sonata in E Minor, TWV 41:e8, like 41:d5, 41:d6, and 41:G10, one of the unpublished sonatas, contains in its first movement some passages in the lower register—in this case, only the lower D-string—and some dips onto the G-string, and Begelman’s violin sounds winningly resonant there. In general, this work sounds less like those of Corelli than do any that have preceded it in the program. The recital concludes with the Sonata in G Major, TWV 41:G10, opening with a flowing, poignant movement (at least in this performance) without a tempo designation. With a bustling Allegro and two brief movements, the first of them an aria-like Adagio stretched over an almost guitar-like accompaniment, the ensemble bids farewell to Telemann and to the ghost of Corelli.

Listeners who admire Telemann should treasure these compositions and their performances, so well recorded. But the collection should also be welcome to those who have endured so many 18th-century and early 19th-century sonatas that pay more tribute than they do honor to Corelli’s memory. Telemann channels the earlier composer and Begelman displays both the earlier and the later one in a flattering light. Urgently recommended.

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