Italian ensemble Alter Ego have made their name playing the post-minimalism of composers as diverse as Louis Andriessen, David Lang and Frederic Rzewski. Now they turn their attention to pre-, or perhaps more accurately, prototype minimalism in this fine two-disc survey of early Philip Glass. Rejecting the seamless cross-stitching and salamander slither of Glass’s own ensemble, Alter Ego opt for a brassier and more strident approach. This strategy proposes a subtly alternative view about which the composer obviously approves – Orange Mountain Music is his own label.
Pinchgut Opera, based in Sydney and founded in 2002, specializes in Baroque and Classical opera, featuring works such as Semele, The Fairy Queen, Idomeneo, and Orfeo. One of its more obscure repertoire choices is Marc-Antoine Charpentier's 1688 David & Jonathan. It's a work that's rarely performed or recorded, so this fine performance is revelatory.
When he originally recorded this album in 2006, cellist Matt Haimovitz, a player with an insatiable musical curiosity, was already exploring more unusual repertoire. In this case, he tackles Mozart’s enchanting and strangely neglected Divertimento, K. 563, with its sublime, slow second movement, plus a trio of Mozart’s arrangements of preludes as well as ingenious and miraculously handled fugues by Bach. Haimovitz is joined by Jonathan Crow (violin) and Douglas McNabney (viola), who play as one yet also each bring an attractive personality to the music. This is wonderfully generous chamber music-making, and a joy to eavesdrop on.