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The tune known as 'La Folia' has fascinated many composers since the seventeenth century. Portuguese in origin, the word means 'mad' or 'empty-headed' and until the 1670s it indicated a fast and noisy dance in which the participants seemed to be 'out of their minds'. By the end of the century a new, slower form had developed which threw the accent from the first beat on to the second every other bar and slightly adjusted the harmonic structure to form the perfect symmetry which inspired Corelli to use it in the twelfth of his Violin Sonatas, Op 5. That famous work further inspired Vivaldi, C P E Bach, Alessandro Scarlatti and other composers to write variations on 'La Folia'—including even Rachmaninov (though his 'Variations on a theme of Corelli' seem to indicate that he thought the tune was by that composer).
This CD assembles 'La Folia'-inspired works by six composers, starting with the original Corelli Sonata and ending with Geminiani's orchestral arrangement of it. The C P E Bach and Scarlatti works are for solo keyboard. The six pieces are all taken from a series of earlier Hyperion CDs individually devoted to the respective composers.