Al­bum reviews

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EN­SEM­BLE AURORA Ar­can­gelo Corelli: The “As­sisi” Sonatas ( Glossa) For three cen­turies, Ar­can­gelo Corelli (1653-1713) has been ex­alted as the acme of bal­ance, the mu­si­cal equiv­a­lent of the fault­lessly mea­sured ar­chi­tec­ture of Pal­la­dio. His rep­u­ta­tion is fully de­served, but it seems strange that it de­rives from a small pub­lished oeu­vre com­pris­ing six col­lec­tions — four of trios sonatas, one of solo vi­o­lin sonatas, one of con­certi grossi — that to­gether con­tain only 72 pieces. In fact, quite a few other works cir­cu­lated in manuscripts with his name at­tached, but when the Baroque re­vival arose in the mid-20th cen­tury, th­ese were largely re­garded as spu­ri­ous, and there­fore ig­nored, due to the judg­ment of a sin­gle in­flu­en­tial mu­si­col­o­gist. Schol­ars have re­cently taken a closer look, and the ac­claimed vi­o­lin­ist En­rico Gatti and his col­leagues in the En­sem­ble Aurora here pro­vide el­e­gantly played es­pousal for their ar­gu­ments in fa­vor of the bona fides of some of th­ese works. Meet the 12 sonatas for vi­o­lin and basso con­tinuo at­trib­uted to Corelli in an 18th-cen­tury man­u­script col­lec­tion housed in As­sisi. Th­ese three-move­ment sonatas dis­play traits we rec­og­nize as Corel­lian yet not in full-blown form. In­stead th­ese seem to be early pieces by the great master, writ­ing as a teenager dur­ing a pe­riod dom­i­nated by such lesser masters as Le­grenzi and Vi­tali. Some sound almost like early ver­sions of sonatas that would gain im­mor­tal­ity in Corelli’s pub­lished col­lec­tions — poised per­fec­tion in the mak­ing. — James M. Keller. ANDY STOTT Faith in Strangers (Mod­ern Love) You may want to wear a sweater while lis­ten­ing to English pro­ducer Andy Stott’s fourth full-length al­bum. You won’t find any of the happy vibes from his city of Manch­ester’s dance-mu­sic his­tory; in­stead, a chill blows through, giv­ing the mu­sic the feel of Björk’s more con­tem­pla­tive songs. Built pri­mar­ily from found sounds, field record­ings, and in­stru­men­ta­tion, Faith in Strangers is an in­dus­trial world of me­chan­i­cal bass and heavy beats ac­com­pa­nied by high, syn­thetic whis­tles. Through­out th­ese noises drifts the voice of Ali­son Skid­more, Stott’s child­hood pi­ano teacher, who sings in what could be an R& B style if it con­tained more emo­tion and was set against more or­ganic-sound­ing com­po­si­tions. The al­bum lurches for­ward at a glacial pace un­til “Sci­ence and In­dus­try” livens up the pulse shortly be­fore the half­way point, in­tro­duc­ing a clack­ing beat that one could even dance to. “No Sur­ren­der” al­ter­nates boom­ing thumps of a tom-tom with swoosh­ing noises that re­call the sound ef­fects of kicks in a kung-fu flick and what sounds like a church or­gan with the hard edges smeared away with re­verb. The mood thaws by the time we get to the ti­tle track, which con­tains warm bass lines and a sul­try at­mos­phere wor­thy of a 1980s-era slow jam. By then, it feels earned, like sit­ting next to a fire­place after a long snow­shoe ex­pe­di­tion. — Robert Ker

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