Ignore the Lips!!
Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 12/02/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't differ much from the previous reviewer, Sky, about this musical offering. Biber's 'Harmonia artificioso-ariosa' is a set of seven duet partitas, each of which is a masterpiece of caprice and harmonic drama. The 'Tam Aris Quam Aulis' is far less a unified work; rather it's a collection of fanfares and intermezzi, many of which you may have heard in use on the various CDs available of Biber's massive masses. The Harmonia is one of the crown jewels of Baroque chamber music.
The performance by the Rare Fruits Council is a separate issue. It's an exciting interpretation, to my ear marred by excesses of ferocity at times, too much eagerness to establish the group's identity perhaps, to the point of deliberate ugliness of tone. If you like consorts that take risks, you'll love Rare Fruits, but there's also something to be said for thoughtfully encompassing the whole musical structure of a deep composition. That's the approach Reinhard Goebel has taken with his ensemble, Musica Antiqua Koln. One might be surprised to hear Goebel praised for modesty, but it this case it's true. By his own declaration, he waited thirty years before committing his ideas about Harmonia to recording. The thoughtfulness shows; his interpretation is every bit as virtuosic as Rare Fruits', and a good deal more cohesive.
It's a great privilege of our era to be able to sit back and listen to two magnificent recordings of the same music, and to choose one as slightly better. Thanks, Reinhard Goebel! Thanks, Manfred Kraemer! You've made my afternoon!"