American Record Guide

Here is Pavlo Beznosiuk’s latest entry in his project to record all of the published – and some of the unpublished – music of Charles Avison. He has already done two sets of Avison’s violin concertos for Naxos, the Opus 3 and 4 concertos and the Opus 6. The concertos on this new release seem not available in any other recording, and even Avison’s 12 concertos after Domenico Scarlatti are available in only two recordings.

A great deal of interest was stimulated in Avison a few years ago when a good-sized stash of his music was discovered in the back of a cupboard in an English house. Gordon Dixon, who made the discovery, then founded the Avison Ensemble to take up the work of the neglected British composer.

Avison, fairly well known in the 18 th Century, is not first-rate – and I don’t suppose anyone pretends that he is. Nonetheless, his work is fresh and listenable, and the effort to record his music is entirely worthy. The 12 concertos of Opus 9 were originally published in two sets of six, the first appearing in 1766 and the second in 1767. Avison intended them to be flexible; they could be performed on a variety of instruments as solo keyboard pieces or as quartets. Corelli is the biggest influence; they are composed with the Corellian four movements rather than the Vivaldian three.

Beznosiuk probably needs no introduction to collectors of early music, as he has been active in various early music groups for a long time, most notably with the Academy of Ancient Music, the Hanover Bank, and the Parley of Instruments. He gives these concertos excellent treatment. Sound is very good. This is a high-quality recording of some obscure music.

—Crawford