The Strad Issue: January 2011
Description: Mid-18th-century cello sonatas played with drama and expression
Musicians: Gaetano Nasillo (cello) Tobias Bonz (cello continuo) Jesper Christensen (harpsichord)
Composer: Geminiani

Gaetano Nasillo is fleet of left and right hands, particularly in the final Allegro of Sonata no.1, and he overcomes Geminiani’s challenging string crossings, wide leaps and nimble passagework with assurance and apparent ease in the second movements of nos.3 and 6. He executes the intricately embellished lines in the opening movements of nos.1 and 2 with neatness and flexibility, but allows the chromatic harmony and ornamental line of no.2’s second movement to temper somewhat its Presto indication. Other highlights include the dramatic grandiose gestures of the Andante in no.4, the lamenting melancholy of the Second Sonata’s Adagio, the lilting Affettuoso of no.3 – its expressive line incorporating affective contrasts of dynamic and sonority, and a dramatic use of silence – and the controlled aggression of the knotty multiple-stopping in the finale of no.5.

Nasillo is supported by an alert and accomplished continuo pairing, Jesper Christensen offering an interesting harpsichord prelude in the brief Adagio of no.2 and Tobias Bonz occasionally joining Nasillo in some pleasing contrapuntal interplay. The performances were recorded in close perspective in 2000. Over ten years on, the sound quality is perfectly satisfactory; balance-wise, however, the continuo is occasionally allowed to obscure Nasillo’s mellow solo line.