In England, arrangements of the Op 5 sonatas for recorder and continuo appeared in which the formidable double-stops are negotiated by frantic broken-chord playing. In about 1713, two of them appeared (anonymously) in London in highly competent arrangements for the still-popular viola da gamba. But even though there was a Corelli craze in England at that time, these were probably not a local product; a manuscript containing these arrangements and similar versions of the rest of the Op 5 set surfaced in Paris some years ago. Stylistically, however, they seem closer to North German than French writing for the viol. In fact there was a strong continuing tradition of virtuoso viol playing at the Brandenburg court; perhaps one of Sophia Charlotta’s chamber musicians was responsible? The considerable technical demands on the violist are only matched in gamba sonatas by North Germans such as Kühnel, Schenck and Höffler. In each case the solo part is played an octave lower on the viol than on the violin; Op 5 No 11 (originally in E) has been further transposed down a tone to D major, an excellent key for the gamba. Corelli’s already complex contrapuntal texture is made all the richer by the additional opportunities for full chordal playing on the six strings of the viol.
from notes by Tim Crawford © 1987