Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Vivaldi: Four Seasons; Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 3; Pachelbel: Canon

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Conductor and violinist Jonathan Carney's interpretations of Antonio Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Johann Pachelbel's Canon, and J.S. Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 will probably satisfy both fans of mainstream Baroque performances and casual listeners, but their appearance on a budget disc on the Intersound label may make some question their value as music. Appearances can be deceiving, however, and listening is necessary to appreciate the technical polish and expressive grace Carney and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra bring to these familiar pieces, a cut above what is normally expected in the bargain bin. Granted, all of these works are frequently played, repeatedly recorded, and well-represented on CD, so there is no real urgency in acquiring yet another album of these hits for any well-stocked collection. For that matter, anyone who seeks historically informed period performances will not need this disc, for there is little here that will impress the early music connoisseur. But for the absolute beginner or the dabbler in classical music, this affordable package is well worth the price and admirable for its artistry. It's also worth noting that Carney's violin playing is quite relaxed and agreeable in the Vivaldi and flashy in the Bach, while his direction on the Pachelbel Canon (unfortunately, sans Gigue) is amiable and ambling but not overly slow, and he is given full bow and solid support by the strings of the RPO. The reproduction also deserves praise, because the solos are clear and sparkling, and the orchestra's warm sound is captured with glowing radiance.

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