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CD Review

Cembalo Paradiso

Anna Paradiso, harpsichord
* Jonas Lindgård, violin
* Josef Cabrales, violin
* Henrik Frendin, viola
* Mats Olofsson, cello
* Tomas Gertonsson, bass
Barn Cottage Records BCR007
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Anna Paradiso's new album on Barn Cottage Records easily warrants your attention. Actually, so does everything on the young label so far. Every one of the releases has been unfailingly musical and engaging. Here is a captivating and diverse harpsichord program that captures the full artistic range of the instruments used. Barn Cottage Records has proved to combine smart packaging, unusual repertoire and outstanding young artists to produce a wholly winning formula. And so it is here. With works that span the history of the harpsichord, BCR and Anna Paradiso have created a disc that teaches as well as pleases.

Who knew that Walter Leigh had written a harpsichord concerto in the early 20th century? It's a wonderful surprise and a treat for anyone who sees the harpsichord as a vehicle for Baroque music only. Both Scarlattis are here, as well as Froberger and Frescobaldi. And yes, Bach is here with one of his keyboard concertos. Happily, the concerto is a winner, with finely played outer movements and a fluid take on the largo. Each and every one of the solo selections shows Paradiso to be a sensitive and intelligent artist. Perhaps more importantly, she takes an instrument that is dull in the wrong hands and imbues each selection with impressive vitality.

The instrumental soloists are also excellent. As with their Vivaldi disc, Barn Cottage Records chose a small group of musicians to take on some very big music. It pays off again here. Not only does it not overpower the harpsichord – a dynamically limited instrument – but it gives the concertos a very welcome sense of intimacy that allows them to slip successfully into this largely solo program. While you may picture the Bach on a larger scale, repeated listening confirms the rightness of the artistic approach. This is Anna Paradiso's show, and BCR wisely allows her to prove it.

If you're like me, with the exception of the Bach, none of these pieces will be overly familiar. This disc makes a very convincing argument that everyone should have a harpsichord disc in their collection, and for the versatility and depth of the instrument. If you're in the market for such a disc, I can warmly recommend this one. Bravo, Barn Cottage Records. I eagerly await more.

Copyright © 2013, Brian Wigman