Die Hamburger Ratsmusik: ein Ensemble mit 500-jähriger Geschichte. Dieser Gegensatz reizt zum kreativen Dialog zwischen Tradition und Gegenwart, von Alter Musik und lebendiger Interpretation. Die Anfänge der Hamburger Ratsmusik reichen zurück bis ins 16. Jahrhundert. Nach dem Grundsatz „Gott zu Ehren und Hamburg zur Lust, Ergötzlichkeit und Nutz“ leistete sich die Stadt ein Eliteensemble von acht Ratsmusikern, das vielen fürstlichen Hofkapellen Konkurrenz machen konnte.
After the pan-global success of her disc of Vivaldi arias, mezzo Cecilia Bartoli is clearly a woman on a mission to rescue the neglected operatic output of otherwise well-known composers. Of the eight arias by Gluck on this disc, six have never been recorded before–and it's likely that the operas they have been taken from will be unknown to all but the most obsessive buffs. Unfortunately, even Bartoli can't quite make a case for all the material here: it sometimes lapses into the excessive passage-work and routine arpeggios which are especially obvious in the first track. But there's also plenty of Gluck at his most inspired, writing with acute sympathy for a woman going mad at the thought of her lover's impending execution (track 3) and screwing dramatic tension to almost Verdian levels with the words "estremi sospiri" (final breaths) in an aria from La clemenza di Tito (track 7). Bartoli is as amazing as ever, blending her trademark intensity and almost unbearably gorgeous lyricism into an explosive mix of vocal fabulousness. She is accompanied with period vigour by the Akademie für Alte Musik.–Warwick Thompson
Toshio Hosokawa is a Japanese composer born in Hiroshima. This release brings together three concertos written by Hosokawa since his first mature works in the late eighties. They range over a period of roughly ten years, and are each marked by similar musical concerns, concerns treated in different ways according to the particular instrumental forces utilised.