Emotions ruffle the elegant surface of these instrumental suites by Georg Muffat - caprice, melancholy, martial fervor, amorous longing - and like ripples on a moonlit pond, they shimmer and are gone. They're only ripple deep, these musical evocations, easily recognized but not sustained. Even the titles are stylized - "Indissoluble Friendship", "Noble Youth", Chaconne of the "Lucky Stars", "Quis Hic?".. Who's There? Who indeed? The dancing master, of course! The five suites are composed of the familiar courtly dances of the 17th Century: minuets, bourees, gigues, sarabandes, gavottes, all so exquisitely graceful that one can easily visualize the dancers in their brocades and lace.
"Ensemble 415 is a chamber ensemble devoted largely to the performance of Baroque music on period instruments. The numerical reference in the group's name derives from the pitch used for tuning instruments in the Baroque era. In performing chamber music, Ensemble 415 consists of just a few players, but for larger compositions, the number expands to a minimum of 13 and can reach up to as high as 40 performers. The ensemble's repertory has been broad over the years, taking in many Baroque standards by J.S. Bach, Vivaldi, and Handel, as well as lesser known fare by Muffat and others…"
Label Hyperion has created one of the finest recordings of Muffat's instrumental music ever made: the Parley of Instruments' Muffat: Armonico Tributo. Beautifully recorded at St. Jude-on-the-Hill in London, the Parley of Instruments is jointly led by Peter Holman and Roy Goodman, neither of whom allow any whiny string playing or desultory tempi; the playing is as crisp as the music is fresh.
Schmelzer's many-sided musical talent gives us a detailed glimpse of court life in Vienna and Prague under his imperial employers Ferdinand III (1637-1657) and Leopold I (1657-1705).
This is wonderful music and the Freiburger Barockorchester Consort play it with a rhythmic vitality and elasticity that is at times toe-tappingly infectious. Their performances of the Biber sonatas have a verve and energy and combined with an admirable rhythmic flexibility, so that each of the varied short sections moves naturally into the next. Part of their secret is to give each little section its full due, irrespective of length. This makes for a lively but coherent performance of each sonata. And in the slower sections they are able to thin their tone down to a wonderful transparency. The Muffatt sonatas are rather more robust but here also, the group shines. (Robert Hugill, musicweb-international.com, 2003)
One of London Baroque's first recordings, this 1986 issue of chamber sonatas by Schmelzer and Muffat retains its power to charm, move, and thrill. (James Leonard, All Music Guide)
Ensemble is crisp and well balanced and intonation is excellent. […] The two violinists are beautifully matched but special praise must go to Ingrid Seifert for her passionate account of the Sonata a tre to which the designation Lament has speculatively been appended. […] All in all then, a fine release of interesting sonatas, imaginatively performed and beautifully recorded. (Gramophone, Nov. 1986)
Franco Battiato is one of the most successful singers in Italy. He began his career as a "light" singer, recording a few singles. In 1971 he started his particular journey through experimental music, recording his proggiest issues: "Fetus", "Pollution", "Sulle corde di Aries". Some very atmospheric parts and some very melodic songs make these records worthwhile, along with musical references to the arabic culture and italian folk that will surface from time to time in all of his following output…
The athletic Italian- (and Latin-) language arias of the young Handel, almost unknown to general audiences a few decades ago, have become almost a rite of passage for young sopranos, so it's no surprise to see the highly praised soprano Julia Lezhneva come along with a collection of them for her second solo album. It's an attractive set showing that Lezhneva knows how to play to her strengths. There are just enough of the big showpieces to prove that she can acquit herself fine in them (and indeed she has done the likes of Vivaldi very well in the past), but the majority of the program is devoted to displaying her rather uncanny silvery sound.