Charles Avison lived in Newcastle, England from 1709 to 1770. He was influenced by Corelli, Scarlatti, Geminiani and other Italians and his puzzlingly neglected music is one of the great treasure troves of the baroque period. The Avison Ensemble has been recording his complete orchestral and chamber music in a project shared between Naxos and the independent Divine Art label, and in my ‘to write about’ pile was the last release in the series.
This new double Divine Arts double CD is of Charles Avison’s Sonatas for Harpsichord. These have the early opus numbers of 5 and 7 and are scored for harpsichord, two violins and viola. Avison was a contemporary of J.S. Bach; if you don’t know Avison’s music but adore Bach’s ‘Italian style’ Brandenburgs (and who doesn’t?) you will be delighted with this new release of the Newcastle composer’s Sonatas for Harpsichord.
But the delights do not end there. The Sonatas were recorded for Divine Arts down the A11 trunk road from where I write in St George’s Church, Chesterton, Cambridge by tonmeister Philip Hobbs. He is best known for his work with Linn Records, which has featured here previously . To describe the sound I can do no better than echo (the real thing, not digital) the words of David Gans – every part is clear and present, performed with graceful passion, resulting in sound that is well-defined and quietly powerful. This excellent double CD sells for the price of one and is highly recommended if you want to discover some wonderful music and hear proof that the sound does still matter.