Old-fashioned and unhistorical
Leslie Richford | Selsingen, Lower Saxony | 11/10/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Generally speaking, this is a pleasant-sounding, well-recorded disc with some catchy fast movements and some nice string-playing. If you own no other Handel discs; if you are a complete newcomer to baroque music; if you couldn't tell a baroque oboe from Adam and never heard of gut strings; and if you haven't the faintest idea what the German word 'Affekt' means, then you might just enjoy this CD. If, however, any of these criteria do not apply to you, then I suggest you avoid this recording, one of Naxos's first attempts at baroque music (recorded in May 1988). The Capella Istropolitana has, in the meantime, earned quite a positive reputation for itself, but back then it still played its Handel in a way that I thought died out in the 70's: leadenly slow adagios, heavy-handed strings, no use of breaks or pauses, no feeling for rhetoric or 'Affekt' (sorry, but that's the word), incredibly lame tempi and modern instruments that seem incapable of producing 18th century atmosphere, at least when they are played in such a romanticizing way as here. With regard to the tempi, I can give the timings for some alternative period instrument recordings: Op. 6, No. 4: Handel & Haydn Society 9'51" (Capella Istropolitana 11'18"); Op. 6, Nr. 5: Concentus Musicus Vienna 16'17"; Handel & Haydn Society 14'21" (Capella Istropolitana 17'20"), Op. 6, No. 6: English Concert 16'00"; Handel & Haydn Society 14'53" (Capella Istropolitana 17'31"). Similar strictures apply to Op. 3, No. 3.The tempi alone wouldn't be the problem, of course, but they are symptomatic of the old-fashioned, unhistorical style of this recording."