Johannes Somary

Handel: Royal Fireworks Music; The Water Music

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Regard this Vanguard "ultra analog" CD with caution. Having Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks in its original scoring is an obvious attraction, but Water Music is drastically shortchanged in the 11-movement suite offered here. Since it is possible to fit the complete Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks on a single disc, the loss of the Suite in G major and half of the Suite in D major is unreasonable. Be that as it may, Johannes Somary and the English Chamber Orchestra offer fairly enjoyable performances, though modern instruments are used and some niceties of Baroque interpretation -- such as swung rhythms and freely improvised ornamentation -- are used sparingly. The woodwind and brass sonorities in Fireworks should be more impressive and massive, but the microphone placement puts the horns and trumpets rather close and makes the choirs of oboes, bassoons, and serpents seem remote and echoic. The 1973 analog recordings have been cleaned of tape hiss, though few other enhancements are evident.

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