Various Artists

Breathe: The Relaxing Baroque

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The success of this album may depend on the expectation the title, Breathe: The Relaxing Baroque, elicits in the buyer. The music is certainly not tension-raising -- the pieces are all in cheerful major keys -- but quite a few are perky and energetic, and some are fairly loud, so they're not what most listeners would want for lulling them off to sleep for a nap on the couch. With that caveat, the quality of most of the performances is good, and the CD features some prominent performers from Telarc's catalog, including the Boston Baroque, conducted by Martin Pearlman, and guitarists Angel Romero and David Russell. Telarc does a good job identifying the pieces and performers (which can't always be assumed in this kind of compilation), and which earlier release each track is taken from, in case the listener finds something he or she especially likes and wants more of the same. The only questionable track is the final one, a jazz version of Jesu, joy of man's desiring. On its own terms, it's a very nice performance by the Jacques Loussier Trio, but it's entirely out of character with the rest of the album and is something of a stylistic jolt. The sound quality, particularly the sense of presence, varies considerably between tracks.

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