An unexpected and welcome development in the classical music business was the revival of extinct classical label Dorian under the combined aegis of Dorian/Sono Luminus. In the 1980s and '90s, Dorian established a strong presence by virtue of its innovative and sometimes controversial recordings that connected early music with some aspect of popular culture, most notably through the group the Baltimore Consort, which brought the early music repertoire into the context of the folk/bluegrass sphere. Clearly, Dorian/Sono Luminus appreciates this heritage, and with Crazy, featuring the Canadian group I Furiosi, takes it to a new level. One will note right off the bat that the cover image features the fashion forward group in an abandoned warehouse setting, gathered around a displaced automobile seat and dressed in a full complement of punk-styled, rock & roll gear. Certainly not the typical image for a period Baroque ensemble, but they do not sound like Penetration or the Cramps; the performances here are disciplined, suitably respectful, and at times even restrained. The literature of choice emphasizes dance movements and songs that explore the darker side of the Baroque consciousness; certainly no teenager can fail to connect with the sentiment of "I Burn, my Brain Consumes to Ashes," an aria from a show by Jonathan Eccles and Henry Purcell that took the stage in 1694. Much of the other material deals with grief, death, broken hearts, and other kinds of material that may well connect with younger listeners more attuned to hormonal notions of romance, spirituality, emotions, and the like.
Soprano Gabrielle McLaughlin has a clear, unfettered, and light pop voice, but rolls her Rs and pulls off a roulade along with the best of them. The band occasionally digs into some of the instrumental music and plays it with force, particularly in the aria from Handel's Giulio Cesare, which has been chosen as the video performance Dorian is circulating of I Furiosi. However, most of the playing is more marked by sensitivity than bite; "straight" Baroque performers such as Fabio Biondi are comparatively more aggressive and risky. The choice of Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" as the sole "modern" popular piece on Crazy is an interesting one; if you are Canadian, this song has iconic status, but many younger listeners probably will not know it. However, listeners who are a bit older will recognize and enjoy it, and most of that generation will likely find very little that is difficult to swallow in the whole of I Furiosi's Crazy.