Il Giardino Armonico ~ Musica Barocca

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Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

Edition: Imported ed.

Format: Import

Number Of Discs: 1

Publisher: Teldec Classics

Details: Founded in 1985 in Milan, Il Giardino Armonico was one of Italy's earliest period instrument groups. Directed by Giovanni Antonini, who also acts as solo flutist, it consists of about 30 players, all highly accomplished and, to judge from their photograph, appropriately taken in what looks like the garden of a country house, all young. Many of them take solo turns, most prominently the concertmaster, the wind players, and the lutist. Their style is very "baroque," with lower pitch, speedy tempos, especially in fast movements, clipped articulation, lots of swells as well as sudden contrasts, and lavish, imaginative ornamentation. The program, except for improvised variations on "Greensleeves" for solo lute, is all-Baroque and a bit strange. It opens with Bach's Suite No. 3 in a brilliant, exuberant performance, enhanced by a Trumpet Consort from Innsbruck, and then alternates complete concertos for various single and multiple solo instruments with short works, including separate movements. This produces variety but also frustration: the playing is so good that one wants to hear the rest of the piece. Apart from the Bach, Purcell's G-minor Chaconne and the Pachelbel Canon are most familiar. A Vivaldi Concerto for flautino (a sort of piccolo recorder) is a bravura showpiece, but the instrument sounds like a mechanical bird. Also notable are a somber, dramatic Oboe Concerto by Marcello, and several lovely slow movements, including one by Telemann and three by Albinoni. Surprisingly, the saddest and most dissonant of these brings the program to a very mournful close. --Edith Eisler