Monday, 10 June 2019

Vivaldi - Le Quattro Stagioni - Podger/Brecon Baroque

Rating: 5/5

Great stuff

I love this disc. If it hadn’t been by Rachel Podger I wouldn’t have bothered with it (yet another Four Seasons? Seriously?) but Podger always bring something special to her recordings and this is no exception.

Others have already said what makes this so good: the chamber ensemble sounds so light and supple, there are no gimmicks but the whole thing sounds fresh and really well considered, a sense of delight in the music...and so on. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what is so good about it, but it’s a genuine pleasure to listen to.

Even if you’re heartily sick of hearing the Four Seasons, this may well restore your enjoyment in what is, after all, very enjoyable music, and there is plenty more to enjoy here as well. Very warmly recommended.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Obrecht - Masses - Beauty Farm

Rating: 4/5

Very good but slightly dry

This is another good recording from Beauty Farm, although I’m not quite so keen on it as on some of their others.

This is a double CD of two major mass settings by Obrecht, Missa Fortuna desperata and Missa Maria Zart. They are both fine works which Beauty Farm sing with just four voices: countertenor, two tenors and bass. This emphasises the spare beauty of Obrecht’s music, which for me could do with just a little more richness of tone occasionally. This could just be because I have loved The Tallis Scholars’ disc of Missa Maria Zart and The Clerk’s Group’s excellent Obrecht recordings for many years so Beauty Farm’s rather bleaker sound here is quite a contrast, but I do find both masses a little bit dry.

That said, this is fine music which is very well sung and recorded. Beauty Farm (in spite of their silly name and dreadful covers) are an excellent ensemble and this is a good addition to their body of work. For me, it’s not quite as enjoyable as their excellent de la Rue release, for example, but it’s still very recommendable.