The Brandenburg Concertos need no introduction – doubtless because they owe their fame to a systematic exploration of a genre recently inherited from the Italians, with a still youthful Bach devising as many different scorings as there are concertos. When he received the manuscript of the six works, Christian Ludwig, Margrave of Brandenburg, must have been terrified by their demands, and his musicians even more so! Three centuries later, the cycle is as open as ever to new ‘historically informed’ interpretations, as this set demonstrates. The CD cover represents the importance of numbers in these works eg Concerto No 3 which is scored for three instruments, in 3 time, 3 sections etc. The trumpeter is particularly impressive. Freiburg are recording and touring Bach throughout 2014.
Despite the use of period instruments, including some fine blaring natural horns, this couldn't be called a historically informed performance of Handel's Royal Fireworks Music, HWV 351. The work was not composed for a pleasant onboard afternoon musicale like the Water Music, but instead was part of an event that would have been one of the top items on CNN Headline News for 1749: the celebration of the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, brokered by King George II.
When considering the first set of compositions designed to truly extend and test the technical limits of the violin, most would first consider the 24 Caprices of Paganini. However, more than a century before Paganini was even thought of, Italian composer Pietro Locatelli was pushing the violin to its limits with his four concertos of Opus 3, subtitled the "Art of the Violin."
Soprano Simone Kermes sings a variety of repertoire from the Baroque to the Romantic, but it's in the Baroque where she has made the strongest impact, and she shines in this album of Vivaldi opera arias and solo cantatas. The recordings are culled from two earlier Deutsche Grammophon Archiv releases, Amor Profano and Amor Sacro, so fans of the singer who already own those albums would not be getting new material with this one. For other listeners, though, it's an attractive selection that showcases Kermes' versatility, as well as Vivaldi's.
When the German transverse flute found its place in Italy and was accepted by the Catholic church as a suitable replacement for the proscribed recorder, Antonio Vivaldi took to it with great enthusiasm. His flute concertos mark a point of departure, coming after he had completed his 40 bassoon concertos and virtually all of the string concertos. Although some of these pieces were reworkings of material previously composed for recorder, Vivaldi came to capitalize on new techniques he learned from Ignazio Siber, the flute instructor at the Ospedale della Pietà. Of Vivaldi's 15, the 7 flute concertos presented here were freshly written for the instrument. Each has a distinct character and the levels of virtuosity vary between them, but all are charming and rank among Vivaldi's freshest compositions. The most famous of these works is the expressive Concerto in D major, nicknamed "Il Gardellino," the only one of the flute concertos to be published in Vivaldi's lifetime. Flutist Janet See plays with a chaste tone, at times suggestive of the recorder's sound but more focused and controlled, especially in rapid passages. The Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, under Nicholas McGegan's direction, gives delicate support and transparent accompaniment to set off See's buoyant performance.(Blair Sanderson)
The "Concerto grosso" was eminently popular in Europe at the beginning of the 18th century, Arcangelo Corelli having set the trend with his Opus 6 published around 1710, but probably written much earlier. The main attraction seems to have been the possibilities opened up by having two groups of musicians in dialogue with one another.
Recording after recording, Giuliano Carmignola, Andrea Marcon and the Venice Baroque Orchestra have proven themselves as a winning combination. After previously triumphing in the music of Vivaldi, Carmignola discovers the almost completely forgotten repertoire of the Italian violin concerto, bridging the gap between the Baroque and Classical styles in the mid-18th century. During this time period, violin virtuosi would travel across Europe giving concerts to great acclaim. It is their music that Carmignola performs.
Glorious music brilliantly played and vividly recorded, this recording of suites from three of Jean-Philippe Rameau's operas by Roy Goodman and the European Union Baroque Orchestra is as fine a disc of French Baroque orchestral music as has ever been issued. The wit and élan that Goodman and his Orchestra bring to Rameau is infectious. The listener finds himself smiling at Pigmalion's Les différence caractéres de la danse and laughing at Platée's Air pour des fous gais et de fous trietes.