Fulfilling Overview of the Baroque Era in Music and Words
Ed Uyeshima | San Francisco, CA USA | 05/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Yet another great bargain-priced package from Naxos effectively provides an overview of the rich Baroque period with two discs containing more than 2 ½ hours of music and a comprehensive, 140-page primer booklet. Compiled by music historian Clive Unger-Hamilton, the collection is well-chosen to represent the many different facets of the era without recycling the more obvious candidates like Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons". The quality of the playing and singing is top-notch throughout, and the program contains quite a smorgasbord of pieces from dramatic opera arias to harpsichord pieces (sometimes played on authentic instruments, other times on modern grands) to full-blown choruses. Standout tracks include Allegri's "Miserere mei" with an ethereal boy treble soloist; two arias sung by soprano Ingrid Kertesi, in particular, Almirena's lament, "Lascia ch'io pianga" from Handel's "Rinaldo"; and a lovely "When I am laid in earth" from Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas" performed by soprano Kym Amps. The choral pieces can be astounding from Bach's "St Matthew Passion (BWV 244)" performed by the large Hungarian Festival Chorus and full symphony orchestra to the eight voices that wrap themselves around "For unto us a child is born" from Handel's "Messiah".
The booklet itself provides great value as you listen to the selections. There is a well written 85-page essay by Unger-Hamilton, who manages to encapsulate an enormous amount of information about this period which leaves a novice like me with a more solid basis of understanding the music of the Baroque era. In fact, what is quite valuable is that Unger-Hamilton provides a specific historical reference for each piece on the recording in his essay. There is also a very helpful glossary and an intriguing timeline which covers musical milestones relative to similar milestones in history, arts and architecture and literature. Moreover, there is an alphabetical list of the key Baroque composers and an accompanying map of Europe with important music centers and the composers associated with these cities. The thoughtful presentation of this package really makes the $8.98 price tag one of the great bargains here."
A nice collection
Chikster | Phoenix, AZ USA | 12/16/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A good, diverse selection of songs. On a few, the quality is not the greatest (i.e. some slight vibration, echo, background noise) but overall the selection is of good quality."