Baroque Orchestral Works
Its title ''Pachelbel: Canon And Gigue'' with such evidently minor composers as Handel and Haydn in small print below suggests that this release is intended for listeners who cannot take classical music in doses of more than a few minutes at a time. Indeed, the inclusion of the Arrival of the Queen of Sheba endorses the view that this is in the nature of a sampler; but it would, in fact, be misleading to consider it as such since there are fine concertos by Haydn, Albinoni and our very own Charles Avison which hardly qualify as popular classics in the normally accepted understanding of the term. The Pachelbel, Handel and Purcell Chaconne are, indeed, well represented elsewhere in the catalogue, but the albinoni and Avison are not otherwise available and I cannot find the Vivaldi concerto in the current catalogue.
What this release certainly creates is a brightly-lit shop window for The english Concert's approach to music of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Rarely amongst groups of players of period instruments have I heard ensemble so polished as is on display here. Handel's orchestral symphony, the Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, is crisp, vigorous and as exciting and colourful as it was clearly intended to be. The same applies to the sparkling Vivaldi Sinfonia in G major, one which, incidentally, was performed at the Ospedale della Pieta in 1740 during a visit to Venice by the Crown Prince of Saxony. The most interesting items in the programme, though, are the concertos by Haydn, Albinoni and Avison and for me, in that order. Trevor Pinnock himself is the soloist in the Haydn Concerto in D major (the one with the Hungarian rondo finale). Haydn may well have had a piano in mind for the solo instrument but Pinnock's harpsichord playing is authoritative and convincing.
David Reichenberg is the soloist in Albinoni's Concerto in D minor, Op. 9 No. 2: it's one of the composer's finest concertos. The Avison Concerto is one from a set of 12 which he based on keyboard sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti. The music at times will be unfamiliar to most listeners, even those well up in their Scarlatti, since the two slow movements relate to unidentified sonatas.
There is much to enjoy in this recital and it should have a wide appeal. The LP and CD are very well recorded.'