Mstation Classical Reviews

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Mon, 31 Oct 2005

Vivaldi, Sacred Music

Antonio Vivaldi, The Complete Sacred Music
Choir of the King's Consort
The King's Consort
Robert King
11 CDs, 12 hrs 53 mins

See here for a short essay.

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South American Baroque

Moon, sun and all things
Jeffrey Skidmore,
Ex Cathedra
CD, Hyperion

This Album came about after a huge tour of Eastern Bolivia with the Freiburg Baroque ensemble, and Florilegium, an English Baroque ensemble. Jeffrey Skidmore visited twenty churches, attended ten masses and twelve concerts, also meeting leading Latin American musicologists along the way, who were to become a crucial part of the final result.

“Moon, sun and all things is an anthology of Latin American music from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries…It was certainly a life changing experience for me” Jeffrey Skidmore

It is worth buying this album just for the awesome opening. I have not heard such passionate early music before this and it deserves all the time in the world. Any preconceptions of music from the region will be expelled. Ex Cathedra has expertise at performing early music that is second to none and the time researching pronunciation has been time very well spent. They perform the music in a way that breathes life into what can become a very mundane period of music.

The harmonies force upon you, in the most pleasing way, images of passion, sacrifice, and excitement. I personally see myself placed on the frontline of an ancient battlefield. I am to defend my very history whatever the cost. Hearing this music makes me feel that I succeeded.

The music you will hear on this album will lift you away into a world of mystery, giving you an image of seductive regions of South America filled with torment, and a haunting feeling of sacrifice and a powerful commitment beyond anything in today’s world. Sweet female voices will rest you peacefully back into your armchair with only the memory of a wonderful, unimaginable journey through time. (E Walton)

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Scarlatti, The complete Keyboard Sonatas

Domenico Scarlatti - The complete Keyboard Sonatas

Scott Ross - harpsichord.

Recorded 1984-1985 at Studios of Radio France. 
Warner Classics 2564 62092-2

The feature article about this set of CDs is here

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Handel, Water Music DVD

G.F Handel, Water Music
The English Consort
Andrew Manze
DVD, BBC/Opus Arte

This DVD is about a recreation of the performance circumstances of this famous piece of music. We are taken through what London was like in those days and the circumstance and difficulties of performing on a barge while floating down the river Thames. We are also introduced to the political aspect of the thing: George I was worried about the popularity of his son, the Prince of Wales, and wanted to demonstrate his power and magnificence by putting on a big show.

A really lifelike creation was actually impossible. The Thames is much narrower for one thing, and less calm. The surrounding noise pollution is also severe, not to mention the fact that most people live a goodly way away from it. And there's light pollution as well which takes away from that sort of spectacle. Never mind, the carefully renovated barge looked the part as did the musicians kitted out in their period gear -- both sexes dressed as men because they didn't have professional female musicians in those days. That sort of thing was meant for the drawing or music rooms.

It's a nice performance and there are lots of pretty pictures of boats floating on the Thames.

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Bartoli, Opera Proibita

Opera Proibita
Handel, Scarlatti, Caldara
Cecilia Bartoli
Les Musiciens du Louvre - Grenoble
Marc Minkowski
LP in little Book, Decca

This CD comes packaged in a little book that, wonder of wonders, fits into a CD rack. Congratulations are due I think.

The concept of Opera Proibita comes from the time when there were fundementalist Popes who decreed that opera was a nasty, ungodlike thing and that we should be directed to more uplifting entertainments. The results were, I imagine, lots of unemployed stage hands and a downturn in demand for over-the-top costumes. Musically, there was no downturn in beauty. Thematically, of course, there was a turn towards religion and some very nice oratorios were written. Here we have pieces from Handel, Scarlatti, and Caldara and they are blissfully performed by Cecilia Bartoli and Les Musiciens du Louvre.

Also we get it all in a little hardcover booklet that explains the background of the pieces and provides us with libretti and a series of interesting photos of Cecilia. On the cover is a photo reminiscent of Ingred Bergmann in the fountain from the Fellini film "La Dolce Vita". Ah yes, she does have a sweet voice, but there is little decadence in the music she sings.

The booklet makes this quite a nice present, I think, as it adds a little more to a bare CD. Although I don't like collections, which I see as dumbing-down, this is rather nice, and quite useful for the automobile CD changer. (Count K)

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