Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

: 'Aria'
a collection of instrumental and vocal music
Enfants de la Maîtrise de garçons de Colmar
Ambroisie AMB9907 (61.59 minutes)

This disc is enjoyable enough for casual listening, but since the programme is an arbitrary collection, it is unlikely to figure strongly in one's collection in the longer term. On the positive front, some of the recordings are spectacularly good. There is detail along with plenty of atmospheric impact, and this is just right for chamber music and for projecting the talents of the performers. The three instrumentalists who together make up the group called Amarillis - Héloïse Gaillard (flute & oboe), Violaine Cochard (harpsichord & organ) and Ophélie Gaillard (cello) - are certainly gifted, and the two highlights on the disc are the viola da gamba sonata, BWV1028 (played on the piccolo cello), and the Italian Concerto for solo harpsichord.

However, the remainder of the programme is more problematic. The flute is far too closely recorded in the C major Sonata, BWV530, and this spoils the performance. Various arias from the cantatas are sung by boys from the Colmar ensemble. They acquit themselves adequately enough, but they do tend to sing flat. However, the problem with their contribution is that the arias are taken out of context and therefore do not communicate their full meaning. There are no texts or translations, moreover, and the accompanying notes are very thin.

Despite this the general packaging is nothing short of indulgent: an over-designed three-way fold with the disc at the centre. The irritating thing is that anyone browsing through the items in the racks at their local record store would be unable to read the details of the musical content as printed on the back of the cover. The print is small: white letters against a light brown background. Why?

Terry Barfoot

If in difficulties getting the disc it can be obtained in the UK direct from Discovery at:

Discovery Records Ltd
phone 01672 563931
fax 01672 563934  

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