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HANDEL: Water Music. Music for the Royal Fireworks.
Aradia Ensemble/Kevin Mallon, cond.
NAXOS SACD 6.110115 TT: 70:52
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EYBLER: Symphony No. 1 in C. Symphony No. 2 in D minor. Overture.
L'Orchestre de Chambre de Genève/Michael Hofstetter, cond.
cpo SACD 777 104 TT: 57:49
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"A CAPPELLA PLEASURES" - 27 Authentic Folk Songs from Austria and Slovenia.
Männerquartett Schnittpunkt/Kvartet Vita.
cpo SACD 777 168 TT: 59:40
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Naxos' SACD of Handel's Water Music and Royal Fireworks is a superb account of both scores. These brisk performances are played on original instruments.by the Toronto-based Arcadia Ensemble Their technical expertise is unquestioned and conductor Kevin Mallon, who worked with John Eliot Gardiner, has a firm grasp on performance style. The recording was made in St. Anne's Church in Toronto in January 2005, and CD notes that this is the first recording of Royal Fireworks to include a transverse flute as indicated in the original manuscript. The rather small ensemble has been superbly recorded, but I imagine most listeners would prefer the richer sounds of Boston Baroque directed by Martin Pearlman on Telarc (see REVIEW).

Joseph Eybler (1765-1846) is best-known for his sacred music; he was asked by Constanze Mozart to complete her husband's Requiem, which he declined to do. Eybler studied with Albrechtsberger, and was highly praised by both Haydn and Mozart, difficult to understand based on the composer's only two symphonies heard on this recording. In spite of a few charming moments, particulary featuring the bassoon, little memorable takes place. A 7-minute Overture completes the disk; it's of more interest than either of the symphonies, but no information is provided about its origin. Michael Hofstetter and his fine chamber orchestra do what can be done for the music, and recorded sound is excellent.

A Cappella Pleasures is a collection of 27 folk songs from Southern Austria and Slovenia performed by Kvartet Vita, consisting of two sopranos and two altos, and Schnittpunktvokal, which features a countertenor, two tenors and a baritone. All eight have been recorded in a church, and their sound has been captured with uncommon clarity. Profuse program notes describe each song, and complete texts are provided. If this repertory intrigues you, check this one out.

R.E.B. (March 2006)

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