Hiro Kurosaki / William Christie

Handel: Violin Sonatas

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Ornate, opulent, majestic: Handel's music truly exemplifies the Baroque in its elaborate monumentality, which many listeners associate with his vast, dramatic oratorios. Perhaps lesser known, but hardly less significant is Handel's chamber music, which reveals a different kind of artistry, an intimately refined facet of the Baroque spirit. The contrast between the monumental and the intimate in Handel's music is especially interesting since he cultivated chamber music throughout his career, composing works that reflected the development of his style from its Italianate beginnings to the ultimate richness of his late idiom. As David Vickers pointed out in the liner notes, the sonatas on this disc span Handel's entire life as a composer, "from his fertile youthful years in Italy up to the end of his career in London in the early 1750s." One couldn't imagine a pair of musicians more suited to the task of interpreting these fascinating works than violinist Hiro Kurosaki and harpsichordist (and organist) William Christie of Les Arts Florissants fame. Playing with exquisite balance and refined expressiveness, Kurosaki, his rich, golden tone consistently adding an elemental beauty to the impeccable phrasing, finds a perfect counterpart in Christie, whose gem-like keyboard artistry immensely enriches the melodic line. Playing the early Sonata in G major (HWV 358) and Handel's ultimate sonata (HWV 371) in D major with equal assurance and understanding, Kurosaki and Christie, in their efforts to decipher the composer's intentions, illuminate the pure musical impulse underlying the written page (with its mathematical determinism, so to speak), revealing deeper energies by resorting to subtle, almost imperceptible alterations of tension and energy, ultimately allowing the music to flow in its fundamental and incomprehensible splendor.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Sonata in A major, Op. 1 No. 10, HWV 372
1 1:24
2 2:33
3 1:12
4 2:24
Sonata in G minor, Op. 1 No. 6, HWV 364a
5 2:01
6 1:34
7 0:42
8 1:52
Sonata in D major, Op. 1 No. 13, HWV 371
9 3:07
10 2:41
11 3:11
12 3:30
Sonata in A major, Op. 1 No. 3, HWV 361
13 2:37
14 1:46
15 0:55
16 2:24
Sonata in D minor, HWV 359a
17 2:15
18 1:39
19 1:06
20 2:31
Sonata in G major, HWV 358
21 2:10
22 0:47
23 2:25
Sonata in F major, Op. 1 No. 12, HWV 370
24 2:47
25 3:06
26 3:31
27 3:13
blue highlight denotes track pick