English composer Maurice Greene (1696-1755) was the teacher of the only slightly better known William Boyce. Greene himself has received exposure mostly for sacred choral music, and the six overtures that form the bulk of the program are quite novel pieces. They offer a unique mix of Italian and French traits: they are all in three or four short movements with Italian tempo designations, but four of them begin with a title-less slow movement marked "con spirito" and showing the dotted rhythm of the French overture that gives the pieces their generic title. It's a simple, compact fusion of the two national tastes, and it's worth hearing for any fan of Baroque orchestral music. The ten short keyboard pieces included pale beside those of their model, Handel, but the pair of larger operatic overtures at the end are also quite accomplished. The Chicago-based Baroque Band and its British leader Garry Clarke continue its ascent to the top of the American early music scene; the group brings out the best in Greene's music with an edgy, harpsichord-heavy sound. The sound, recorded in several locations, none particularly appropriate, is not an attraction, but this release should find a place on the shelves of serious Baroque devotees.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Six Overtures in Seven Parts|
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