"…The playing of the Retrospect Ensemble is spot-on from beginning to end. Tempos are brisk but not pressed to the point that compromises articulation or unanimity of bowing and fingering, and the readings are buoyant, energetic, and fresh-sounding. Complemented by Linn's wonderfully clear and transparent multichannel recording, Bach's music shines." ~Fanfare
For those who already appreciate Rachel Podger's unique brand of magic I'll just say that this return to recorded Bach is lovely and all that one could hope for. All that one looks for is here, and there is more. For those who are not familiar with Rachel Podger, she is a unique voice among violinists. She has absorbed the principles of late Baroque performance practice and made them a part of herself, so that the articulation and inflection of that rhetorical approach to music flows from her as a natural idiom of expression.
The Gemini Series features an impressive roster of singers, conductors, soloists, and ensembles of international renown, all from the incomparable EMI Classics stable. EMI's rich legacy of recording expertise comes to the fore in performances from the 1960s to the 1990s. Gemini titles are predominantly collections of single composers and fantastic value with well over an hour of music on each CD, making them the ideal place to start or develop a collection of classical music. Each 2-CD set contains over two hours of music for a fantastically low price. Attractively designed and packaged in space-saving brilliant boxes, each set includes three-language booklets with detailed notes on the music.
Rarely do we feel the presence of Bach so vividly on a recording as we do here with this set of Trio Sonata arrangements, performed by violins, viola da gamba, and harpsichord. What a perfect combination, thanks to Richard Boothby's settings and to the wonderfully synergistic interaction among these very experienced early music players--violinists Catherine Mackintosh (in her best recorded performance in a while) and Catherine Weiss, gambist Boothby, and harpsichordist Robert Woolley. There's certainly nothing wrong with arranging Bach's music like this--and indeed, Boothby does "mix things up" by transposing keys and instrumental lines--as Bach himself reused, rearranged, and transposed his own and others' music. In these string versions of pieces normally performed on the organ we hear occasional enticing hints of the violin concertos and, because of the instruments' different registers and colors, the lines emerge in new and surprising ways. This disc makes a nice companion to Bernard Labadie's arrangement of the Goldberg Variations for strings and continuo, recorded with Les Violons du Roy on Dorian (see reviews and features): both are distinguished for their learned, totally faithful, yet refreshingly entertaining and enlightening recastings of music that's not only timeless but seemingly limitless in its revelatory capacity. The sound is demonstration quality--this is one of those recordings that when you turn it up to just the right level, the instruments come to stunningly real, three-dimensional life, no fancy surround-sound or other high end equipment needed.ClassicsToday - David Vernier