Nocturne - Amsterdam Loeki Stardust Quartet
With the Amsterdam Loeki Stardust Quartet we can be sure of highly polished, stylish playing and a determination to push the expressive potential of the recorder consort as far as possible. Despite this, and even with the benefit of superior recorded sound, there’s a clear limit to what these instruments, with their characteristic sound and narrow dynamic range, can achieve.
In a romantically inclined work like the Jadin Nocturne the sound begins, after a time, to cloy, and one longs for the extra incisiveness of a bassoon or the expansive warmth of a clarinet (Jadin composed it for flute, clarinet, horn and bassoon). The most successful items are those which offer the possibility of a bright, birdlike sonority (JC Bach, Sammartini) or where the main interest is in the contrapuntal structure, as in the Handel Suite or the Mozart.
The latter is delightful: there may be a few places in the Adagio where it’s proved impossible to achieve a perfect balance but the Fugue shows a wonderful combination of clarity and energy. In the Sammartini, the Quartet produce such a fascinating, brilliant sonority that one is unlikely to miss the original string texture. The opening of the Locatelli is another matter, however; such soulful, sensuous music demands the presence of violins! The Pachelbel Canon is taken surprisingly slowly for a group that’s so stylistically aware, and some of the contrast provided by the changing figuration is lost.
As a whole, the disc can be recommended to recorder enthusiasts; for the rest of us, it may be better to sample rather than listen straight through.