This disc is a refreshing take on several well-known violin sonatas, and some lesser known works, featuring Italian baroque violinist Davide Monti together with Australian musicians Jacqueline Ogeil, playing a replica of a Cristofori piano, and Josephine Vains on baroque cello.
The opening sonatas of this disc in particular provide an excellent showcase for Monti’s skill in ornamentation, drawing on the style of the many historical examples available. In music of this era the performer was often the composer, and the written music was often just musical shorthand for what was actually performed. Monti, a specialist in improvisation, adds extensive embellishments on the melody, particularly in the slow movements of these sonatas. At some points he also improvises passages as a means of linking movements.
Although not the first violinist to record his own ornamented version of Corelli’s Sonata in D major, Monti takes the ornamentation further, and has a more bravura approach than other recordings by e.g. Van Dael (Naxos) or Manze (Harmonia Mundi), who adopt a more understated approach. Monti’s opening contains almost breathtaking flights of fancy, while skilfully keeping within a metrical and harmonic framework so the music retains its logical shape and phrasing. A feel of spontaneity is maintained throughout the performance, which in my opinion excuses the very occasional rough edges in this recording.