This strikingly innovative disc includes some very rare works resurrected with considerable aplomb here by the indefatigable Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Programme music was something rather new in the baroque era but these five works certainly have a lot of colour and descriptive aspects to them, to say the least.
Farina's "Capriccio Stravagante" dates from the early 17th century and in its 20 minutes traverses a considerable gamut of emotions which make it a very desirable piece, sadly overlooked and quite unknown. Biber and Schmelzer are perhaps more associated with large scale choral works but these instrumental pieces are certainly extremely innovative and Harnoncourt brings out the strong programmatic element extremely well.
Finally we have the great Marin Marais with his astoundingly modern description of the removal of a stone complete with speaker – almost Poulenc like – and Vivaldi's lovely "La Notte" concerto which is an ideally peaceful way to end the disc which at just over 52 minutes is a bit on the short side. Otherwise, this is strongly recommended for those who enjoy the darker side of baroque music.
Copyright © 2008, Gerald Fenech