The Seasons: Works by Castello, Marinai, Merula, Uccellini ...

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The mixed consort Prisma has chosen the four winds of Greek mythology -- Zefiro, Boreas, Notos, and Euros -- and the four seasons as the organizing themes of this 2018 release on Ambronay, offering a delightful program of 17th century chamber sonatas by Francesco Turini, Dario Castello, Marco Uccellini, and Giovanni Battista Fontana, along with shorter pieces from the Renaissance and early Baroque periods. To a degree, this is a somewhat fanciful use of a well-worn trope, because the pieces have been chosen to reflect the seasonal moods the group wishes to convey, rather than the specific intentions of the composers; to be sure, this is not comparable to Vivaldi's Four Seasons, which was written with the seasons in mind. Even so, the variety of forms, including the popular Canario and Ciaconna, and the virtuosity of Prisma -- Elisabeth Champollion on recorder, Dávid Budai on viola da gamba, Franciska Anna Hajdu on violin, and Alon Sariel on lute -- give the music the needed spontaneity and liveliness to suggest the changeability of weather or the passing of the seasons. Also included are colorful arrangements by the members of the group, each contributing imaginative variations that reflect the improvisational practices of the Baroque. Sample the Prelude that opens the section Notos - Summer, where the playful evocation of a buzzing insect paints a vivid picture. Ambronay's sound is quite close-up and intimate, so every nuance and detail is clearly audible. Highly recommended.

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