This the work was first given in Vienna during Holy Week, 1729, the first of many collaborations between Caldara and Metastasio. Mention of the great librettist provides a prompt that my original review failed to stress the outstanding qualities of the text. Divided into two halves, the first part of the oratorio relates the story of the crucifixion as witnessed through the eyes of Mary Magdalene, John, and Joseph of Arimathea, who respond to the eager questioning of the remorseful Peter. The second part consists of philosophical commentary on the meaning of the crucifixion. Particularly in Part I, Metastasio draws on vivid imagery to convey the full horror of the event. Here, for example, is John describing the nailing to the cross: "… and some hardened, loutish men, sweating as they worked, bathed his face with their foul perspiration."
The "Baroque Favorites for Guitar" title of this CD implies that it might be a greatest-hits compilation or a collection of tunes aimed at newcomers to classical music, and the presence of the not-really-Albinoni Adagio among the contents reinforces this impression. In fact, it is nothing of the sort. It is the product of a long study on Isbin's part (of course, this isn't the kind of detail the marketing department is looking for!), study that has resulted in quite distinctive music making. The album includes mostly transcribed concertos, with a few solo works.
Boston Baroque and Martin Pearlman recorded a splendid set of the Brandenburg Concertos on period instruments in 1993 and 1994. Made entirely in the US, these snappy, crisply articulated, and fluent performances rely heavily on the talents of violinist Daniel Stepner (who doubles as one of the two solo violists in Concerto No. 6). Among the highlights are the joyous finale to Concerto No. 4 and the superb cembalo cadenza in No. 5, played by Pearlman. Along with outstanding sound, there's a winning sense of freshness and discovery in these performances.
Though Bach’s set of six Sonatas and Partitas represents the pinnacle of writing for the solo violin, the Baroque repertoire was rich in compositions for the unaccompanied violin, much of which remains little explored. On this recording Augusta McKay Lodge, hailed as ‘the real thing, a true virtuoso’ (Seen and Heard), explores masters of the genre such as Biber, Locatelli and Pisendel but delves deeper to include the impassioned works of Nicola Matteis, the Franco-Italian warmth of Thomas Baltzar and a series of other long-overshadowed works by their contemporaries.