This boxed set disappointed upon opening the slim booklet, because there are no texts, just a couple of pages of historical notes. But what can you reasonably expect at super-budget price? My answer is that web purchasers should begin to demand access to the original notes with, hopefully, texts and translations available on the Internet, paper production being prohibitively costly, so we are assured.
But to the music. These are lively, well recorded performances of great baroque music, by leading specialist period players and singers of the decade 1982-1992, many of them still active. For a website review, one does not lightly embark on a comparative review of the multitude of recordings of The Four Seasons. If, like me, you don't own one, this will do very nicely, shared between four violinists (amongst them Elisabeth Wallfisch, one of my favourite baroque fiddlers) who all join together in a Vivaldi concerto for four violins.
The Monteverdi selection covers some glorious music, and Emma Kirkby, Rogers Covey-Crump, Nigel Rogers and David Thomas are names to conjure with, all in their prime and in fine form. Andrew Parrott's direction of his Taverner team is sprightly and idiomatic, and based on scholarly research.
With sacred and secular works by Monteverdi and Vivaldi, and additional works by Giovanni Gabrieli, Legrenzi, Lotti and Grandi, marvellous music that flourished in Venice in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, you really can't go wrong.
Recommended for readers who watch their pennies, as most of us must.
Copyright © 2003, Peter Grahame Woolf