Trio Sonata, Op. 3, No. 2
Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713)
Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music, CD 5 Tracks 28-32
Corelli comes out on top. As we may recall, this anthology presents another unfortunate comparison on the other side of Baroque. The second
time we heard Orpheus announce his plans to go underground was far more convincing than the first
. And here, the second time we encounter violins fulfilling the promise of cruel Amaryllis
, Legrenzi, sadly, is upstaged.
The first attraction of Corelli's piece is the attention he gave to the bass line. Of course, three voices make a better fugue than two. But the cello is a boon in the slow movements as well. Because of the sense of motion it provides, the upper two voices are able to linger, once and awhile, on a delicately calculated dissonance.
What I like about this genuine trio are the moments when the violins sustain a single pitch for more than a bar. The opening, for example, is unforgettable in the way that a single note, above the descending bass, is doubled. Strangely, two violins sustaining a note together has a profoundly different meaning than one violin alone. Corelli makes the unison sound memorable. Before the final cadence, he rewards our memory with one more beautifully sustained pitch (near the end of track 31).