This is a reissue of a recording from 1993 (re-released a few years ago and deleted in 2003), recently remastered for SACD, and it really impresses with a renewed presence and impact, even on standard CD playback. As I said in my original review, Savall's reading "comes as close as these things can to placing us in the best seat in the house and treats us to a rare experience: the sensation of believing we're hearing a ruggedly familiar piece for the first time. Literally bursting with energy, scintillating strings, blazing horns, and incisive winds, and never boring even for one second, these performances give you Handel at his most exciting." If you have the earlier release, you probably don't need this one–unless you now own an SACD system–but it does deserve a place in every Handel collection, not only for the unsurpassed performances, but also for the effect of Savall's several decidedly "non-standard" tempos(!), and of course for the phenomenal sound, which now must have reached its ultimate realism in this format.
Released in 2002, before the band broke from Hut and moved to Indepediente, Fireworks: Singles 97-02 is, as the title indicates, 13 of Embrace's singles during that time period. Culled from three albums, The Good Will Out, Drawn from Memory, and If You've Never Been, the compilation is a good collection of what the group offered and a nice look back into late-'90s British rock. With cuts like "All You Good Good People," "I Wouldn't Wanna Happen to You," "One Big Family," and "Wonder" (plus a cover of the Schoolhouse Rock! track "Three Is a Magic Number"), Fireworks is a good choice for Embrace fans who want to relive the band's glory years without having to invest in the full albums.
Jordi Savall's exemplary performance of Handel's Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks is among the finest available on disc: refined and precise, but very big, with blood-stirring grandeur. This is just the kind of extroverted, rousing presentation that best highlights the music's open-air ceremonial function. Savall's Le Concert des Nations is essentially a chamber orchestra with double or triple winds, but the sound he elicits from the group is majestic and surprisingly powerful. The playing is crisp and the rhythmic articulation bracing, but the sound is never brash. In fact, more often than not it is seductively sensual, a heady integration of precision and supple, shapely phrasing. Handel left no authoritative edition of the score of Water Music and it has traditionally been divided into three suites, but Savall reorders the material into two suites, a decision that makes more sense in terms of key relationships and that sounds entirely satisfying.
Compilation by german audiophile label inakustik.
Christopher Herrick continues the Scandinavian leg of his endlessly popular Organ Fireworks series with a disc of music performed on the great organ of Västerås Cathedral in Sweden. The programme is, as ever, a tempting pot-pourri of pieces from around the world, some popular, some rare; some light-hearted and some serious, and demonstrating all facets of virtuoso writing for the organ.