Amsterdam Bach Soloists, Capella Tibernia, Collegium Pro Musica, Concerto Köln, Ensemble Arte Musica, Ensemble Cordevento, Ensemble Violini Capricciosi, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Insieme Strumentale di Roma, L’Arte dell’Arco, Musica ad Rhenum, Musica Amphion, Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester Berlin, St Christopher Chamber Orchestra, Stuttgarter Kammerorchester, Virtuosi Saxoniae
25 CDs
Brilliant Classics 95886

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Doubtless there will have been some raised eyebrows while reading the “cast list” of this collection of music that includes discs dedicated to (in numerical order!) Albinoni (1), Bach (2-5), Corelli (6-7), Couperin (8-9), Handel (10-12), Locatelli (13-14), Marcello (15), Purcell (16), the Sammartinis (17), Alessandro Scarlatti (18), Telemann (20-22) and Vivaldi (23-25). My random selections (literally picked blind) were some truly lively and engaging accounts of Corelli’s op. 6 concerti from 2004 by Musica Amphion under Pieter-Jan Belder (7), an equally enjoyable disc of Marcello (proving that the ubiquitous oboe concerto is far from the only nice piece he wrote) by the Insieme Strumentale di Roma (10), a rather confusing disc of Bach violin concertos in which the stylish (earlier) recordings by the Amsterdam Bach Soloists were followed by a (later) rather stodgy account of BWV1043 with the Leipzig Gewandhaus (4) and, finally, Concerto Köln’s version of Handel’s Water Music in which the brass players seemed to be competing for the title of “Most Audicious Ornamenter”. I can see how a set like this might be useful for libraries or for school teachers who want to introduce children to baroque music, but it is something of a curate’s egg; the word “instrumental” might usefully have been deployed on the exterior of the box, too, since there is no vocal music in the set at all.

Brian Clark

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