Agostino Steffani (1654-1728) was the most important composer ever to be appointed by the Duchy of Hannover. At the end of the 17th century this noble family embarked on a cultural offensive with the objective of having Duke Ernst August become a prince elector. To this end, the Welph dynasty obtained the services of Steffani, a master choice in itself as his works are still performed to this day in the majestic gardens of Princess Caroline of Monaco and her husband, the current Ernst August of Hannover.
Remastered from the original LP recording, this performance is now available on CD.
Leclair was one of the best violinists of his times. The story is told that he had to compete in a musical duel with Locatelli in Kassel - then a most highly popular form of musical entertainment. The chronicler describes his "devilish" playing, contrasting it with the "angelic" style of his Italian rival. His trio sonatas suggest familiarity with the Italian school but also draw on entirely independent French traditions and shine with ingenious inventions and harmonic refinements.
Alessandro Scarlatti’s 600-plus cantatas make him one of the more prolific exponents of a form that flourished in Italy in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Though he’s generally credited with standardising cantata form, his early essays in the genre were often imaginatively varied, as is shown by the delectable Arcadian Academy disc. Rather than the usual two or three da capo arias alternating with recitatives, the four secular cantatas here boast opening sinfonias, closing ariosos, large numbers of movements and a range of aria-types. Bella madre dei fiori, for example, experiments with a mix of poetic strophes and instrumental ritornelli. Even so, this formal ingenuity would be of limited interest were it not for Scarlatti’s gifts for attractive melody and sensitive illustration of his texts. Christine Brandes sings these pieces beautifully in a bright, clear-toned voice, and is given adroit, vivacious support by her five colleagues. La Famiglia Scarlatti offers two cantatas and two sonatas by Alessandro, together with a cantata apiece by brother Francesco and son Domenico. These are delightful performances, with Kai Wessel’s mellifluous alto a winning advocate, especially on the captivating Doppo lungo servire, Domenico’s earliest surviving work. Extensive and informative notes are a further bonus.–Graham Lock
"… meets their high standard. Warmly recommended." ~Fanfare
"These are fine and extroverted performances of some alternate instrumentations of familiar Bach concertos…The solo playing is remarkable, and Rohrig and Kaiser blend and contrast their sounds beautifully…Rudolf Innig makes a real case for the piece [G-minor S 1058] as a harpsichord concerto…[and] The E-major Violin Concerto…also sounds appropriately baroque in its texture…"
“The various members of Musica Alta Ripa give the work a driving, tense performance that rightly underlines the music's agitation and sense of menace. In fact, these musicians characterize all four concertos extremely well, and even manage to maintain a certain amount of clarity in the unavoidably clanging C major concerto for three harpsichords, BWV 1064. In sum, this is an excellent continuation of an excellent series of recordings.”
"…In this second volume of Bach's concertos the players breathe so naturally that they can really savor every gorgeous moment and give us the chance to do the same….Buy the disc for the stunning A-minor Concerto and marvelous, concert-like sonics."
…Celebrated German label MDG have assembled a fine and varied chamber music programme of four movement concertos and sonatas plus an overture which shows off the composer in some of his finest and most varied colours and textures. Listeners unfamiliar with Telemann can comfort themselves as each and every one of the works contained here has expressive charm in abundance and sustained musical interest. No bland and plodding keyboard continuo here. (…) Telemann’s strength and depth in these chamber compositions is never in doubt and with consistently fine playing from the Ensemble Musica Alta Ripa this is certainly a worthy release.