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Fanfare Magazine: 44:4 (03-04/2021) 
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Harmonia Mundi

Code-barres / Barcode : 3149020941669


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Reviewer: Michael De Sapio

This disc aims at evoking the musical atmosphere of London in the early 18th century, when the city was under the sway of Italian opera and Italian instrumental music in the Corellian style. The booklet notes, by the ensemble’s leader Florence Bolton, give us valuable historical background on musical patronage and an engaging portrait of London musical society, including the many foreign musicians who made their careers there. There seems to be a subtext in the program about the displacement of the recorder by the transverse flute, which happened around 1730; both instruments are featured extensively. Alas, this is one of those instances where the booklet notes are more interesting than the music. Much of this strikes me as pale, bourgeois imitations of better models. This is particularly true of the offerings by William Babell and Johann Christian Schickhardt. The one exception is the Handel Sonata for Viola da Gamba, a work often played on the violin (the London publisher John Walsh started the confusion by presenting it as a work for violin, flute, or oboe). The early Handel Concerto a quattro, at one time attributed to Telemann, is formula work and fairly undistinctive. Schickhartdt’s arrangement of one of Corelli’s opus 6 Concerti Grossi for recorders and continuo adds nothing to the luster of the violinistic originals. Even Geminiani’s op. 1 Sonata seems to be riding the coattails of Corelli without adding anything much that’s new or original. Instrumental arrangements of opera arias by Handel and Nicola Haym fail to make any impression. The interpretations of the French group La Rêveuse typify a certain style of Baroque performance today: slightly caustic and astringent, slightly mannered, a bit overly enthused with itself.

In sum, this is a fairly nondescript addition to the never-ending flow of Baroque recordings. It would have perhaps been more interesting to hear from some native English composers of this period.


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