> Musica Barocca: Il Giardino Armonico [KM]: Classical Reviews- January 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Johann Sebastian Bach

Suite for orchestra No 3 in D major, BWV 1068
Tomaso Giovanni Albinoni

Concerto in D minor, Op.9/2 Adagio
Antonio Vivaldi

Flautino Concerto, for piccolo, strings & continuo in C Major, RV 443
Tomaso Giovanni Albinoni

Adagio for organ, violin & strings in G minor
Alessandro Marcello

Concerto for oboe & orchestra in D minor
Georg Philipp Telemann

Concerto for 2 transverse flutes Grave for two Flutes and Strings
Johann Pachelbel

Canon and Gigue for 3 violins & continuo in D major
Improvised Variations on Greensleeves, for lute
Henry Purcell

Chaconne (Curtain tune from "Timon of Athens"), for harpsichord in G minor, ZT680
George Frideric Handel

Solomon, oratorio, HWV 67 No. 27, Arrival of the Queen of Sheba
Tomaso Giovanni Albinoni

Oboe Concerto in D minor Adagio (transcribed by Bach for 2 violins & continuo)
Il Giardino Armonico
Rec: January - February 2001, Chiesa di San Giorgio, Morbio Inferore, Switzerland.
TELDEC 8573-85557-2 [70.23]


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The Italian ensemble Il Giardino Armonico has shown themselves to be one of the premier baroque ensembles in recent years. Their brilliant recording of Vivaldi arias with Cecilia Bartoli, their recordings of Vivaldi concertos, and their breakneck interpretation of Bachís Brandenburg Concertos, have shown them to be original and energetic.

So why does this new recording seem so shallow and uninteresting? Released just before Christmas, this is obviously a marketing ploy to sell lots of CDs to non-classical music fans by serving them a compilation of the "best" baroque music, that is, those pieces likely to be familiar to them. For this disc is little more than a compilation; it contains works by many of the most important baroque composers, from Bach to Teleman, from Purcell to Handel, from Albinoni to Vivaldi. And it is replete with plenty of baroque "hits" - from Pachelbelís Canon, to a few of Albinoniís fine Adagios, to even an "improvised" version of Greensleeves (which is not baroque, nor is the music improvised, at least not literally).

Record companies do everything in their power to try and leverage the attraction of their key artists; this is only normal. But the recent spate of crossover albums shows just how desperate they are to have their key classical artists break out and hit the charts. This is just another example of an attempt to push a fine ensemble into a new audience.

Donít get me wrong, they play very well. Aside from the slow tempi of the Bach Orchestral Suite - all the more surprising because of the rapid Brandenburgs recorded a few years ago, these performances are brilliant and inspired. But there is no overall coherence to the disc, other than to provide the kind of baroque music often heard in supermarket aisles.

One would think that Il Giardino Armonico, given their status as such a popular ensemble, would have chosen something more risky, less commercial. But the allure of going platinum probably tempts ever classical artists, so they probably followed their labelís desires, in the hopes of hitting it big. This they will probably do - I cannot think of another baroque compilation with so many crowd-pleasers, and so well performed. But this disc is not for real lovers of baroque music; it is more like the kind of disc to give to friends who donít know much about baroque, in the hopes they get interested. If so, kudos to Il Giardino Armonico for converting new listeners. But I wouldnít hold my breath.

Kirk McElhearn

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