…I Solisti Italiani continues, both spiritually and sonically, where the original Virtuosi di Roma left off, with creamy, expert, middle-of-the-road performances of Baroque and Classical period music, and occasional 20th-century pieces as well. The ensemble is small - only 12 players, without conductor - but the sound is full and caloric, the playing dapper and disciplined.
The Concerto Grosso is a popular Baroque form, in which two instrumental groups complete against each other: a small group of soloists and the tutti of the orchestral group. It is the forerunner of the solo concerto form, which features only one solo instrument. This set present the complete Concerti Grossi by Pietro Antonio Locatelli, modelled on the popular concerti grossi of his teacher Corelli. The writing as might be expected from Locatelli the devil violinist, is highly virtuosic and brilliant, inventive in harmony and counterpoint, written to impress and entertain.
Released in 1995, this Harmonia Mundi CD of five of Handel's Concerti grossi, Op. 6, is an absolute bargain and highly recommended to any lover of great music. Considering William Christie and Les Arts Florissants are among the most brilliant interpreters of Handel, that these gorgeous works afforded them an ideal platform for their talents, and that Harmonia Mundi provided the best possible engineering to capture their glorious sound, this album is an embarrassment of riches not to be missed.
Richter actually made a full set of recordings for Handel's Concerti Grossi. The Munich Bach Orchestra, who almost played exclusively for Richter, maintained its essential baroque flur throughout all the pieces, under the impeccable conducting of Richter. The different string sections played as if they were in a chorus, each minute part played in fully melodious and engaging manner, while the ensemble as a whole displayed all the required congeniality and harmoniousness essential of the baroque style. The rhythms are enlivened while contrasts striking, and you will seldom find Handel's works played in such grand style as did Richter and the Munich Bach Orchestra here. (Amazon.com)
…This release joins the elite of great recordings, performances that will likely to be enjoyed for as long as music endures. (…) If you think Vivaldi a bore, try this and experience conversion.
The popular Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment presents a fantastic and exuberantly played selection of Vivaldi. Named a ‘Choice' recording by Gramophone upon release, the OAE joyfully celebrate some of Vivaldi's finest instrumental writing. The soloists are drawn from within the distinguished ranks of the OAE including Anthony Robson (oboe), Andrew Clark (horn), Roger Montgomery (horn), David Watkin (cello), Lisa Beznosiuk (flute), Elizabeth Kenny (lute) and Catherine Mackintosh (viola). The concertos assembled on this disc afford the listener a glimpse of Vivaldi's originality, not only as a sensitive colourist and master of form, but also as a felicitous melodist whose harmonies and phraseology are charged with heady atmosphere. The dancing rhythms and distinctive characters of these concerti together with the variety of instrumental combinations and sparkling performances make this a fresh and constantly engaging listen.
Handel's Concerti Grossi opus 6 must surely be ranked as some of the greatest orchestral music ever composed. Probably penned in or around 1739, the pieces were developed to serve as orchestral "interludes" for other operatic or oratorio performances. To listen to them, however, is to tempt us not believe that this could possibly be the case: the Concerti Grossi opus 6 works are without doubt among the pinnacle of Baroque composition. After listening to these, we are left with a distinct sadness that Handel did not turn his attention more to this genre, as his masterful treatment in the opus 6 shows us his true genius.
Someone ought to get some t-shirts made that say "Vivaldi rocks!" At least that partly accounts for his popularity in the twenty first century; among the old masters, Antonio Vivaldi's sense of rhythmic dynamics and the gale-like force of many of his string concertos are close enough to the ever-enervating pulse of pop music that he has found an unlikely audience among younger listeners. Andrea Marcon and the Venice Baroque Orchestra's disc Vivaldi: Concerti & Sinfonie per Archi delivers these very kinds of goods, and will prove pleasing to Vivaldi fanciers of the younger set.