Anyone listening to this admirable set will gain an accurate impression of David Oistrakh’s overall playing style, his poise, composure, interpretative finesse, velvety tone and highly sophisticated musicianship. Various of the works programmed are - or have been - available in alternative Oistrakh recordings (the Tchaikovsky and Brahms concertos in around six versions apiece), but Melodiya’s selections are, in general, judiciously chosen.
Ever the recycler, Handel cobbled together Oreste from parts of pre-existing scores for his 1734 season at Covent Garden. The work promptly disappeared from the repertory for the next 250 years – a fact that is both understandable, given that it's a less convincing result than his fully original operas, and a shame, since Handel's table scraps are still amongst the most entertaining morsels from the period. The present recording, by George Petrou, the Camerata Stuttgart, and a cast of mostly Greek singers, is its first complete performance on CD and an admirably realized production, characterized by polished, stylish singing and vivid orchestral playing. In style, sound, and dramatic pacing, Petrou's effort distinguishes itself as a fine entry in the Handelian opera catalog, and makes a compelling argument for the musical value of the piece itself.
Gérard Lesne founded the Il Seminario musicale Ensemble in 1985. Since 1990, the Ensemble has been in residence at the Royaumont Foundation, where it attracts vocalists and instrumentalists who share Lesne's enthusiam for the 17th and 18th century Italian repertoire. The musicians perform on old instruments and strive to reproduce as faithfully as possible the lilt and narrative line characteristic of the baroque style as expressed in works by composers such as Monteverdi, Cavalli, Scarlatti, Vivaldi, Caldara, Pergolesi, and the others. The size of the ensemble is variable depending on the repertoire. Based on a rich and varied continuo section (theorbo, cello, basson, double bass, organ and harpsichord) supporting one or more soloists, it can be expanded with the addition of a string quartet to make a small chamber orchestra suitable for performing chamber operas. Responsibility for the Ensemble's musical direction is shared by the instrumentalists and vocalists.