In the winter of 1733-1734, the opera houses of London were abounding in Ariannas. In late December, Porpora's Arianna in Nasso was staged by the Opera of the Nobility. In late January, Handel's Arianna in Creta was staged by the composer's own opera company. Comparison, apparently, proved odious – and fatal: Porpora's Naxos Arianna has fallen from the repertoire while Handel's Cretan Arianna has barely hung on by her finger tips. This 2005 Greek performance with George Petrou leading the Orchestra of Patras is the work's first recording in decades – and, thankfully, it's quite fine. Most of the women soloists – and whether their characters are male or female, most of the parts here are sung by woman because most of the parts then were written for castratos – are terrific. Mata Katsuli is sweet but strong in the title role and Theodora Baka is especially effective and affecting as Alceste. The period instrument Orchestra of Patras is stylish, colorful, and lively, particularly the winds and brass playing in the finale. As captured in Musikproduktion Dabringhaus und Grimm characteristically crisp, deep, and detailed sound, this Arianna is well worth hearing by anyone who reveres the operas of the German-English composer.(James Leonard)
Väsen have been around for well over a decade, refining their sound and producing a series of delightful albums, first for their Swedish home market and then finding a global audience. Just how far they reach now is evident from the fact they recorded this live disc in Japan. The humor in their sound is more evident live, but the delightful interplay between nyckelharpa, fiddle, and guitar is apparent throughout, right from the opener, "Björkbergspolskan." The material largely draws from their last two discs, which is fine – those albums were two of the best of their lengthy career.
The second album of the cellist quartet focuses on jazz, the famous themes of the legendary Errol Garner, Dave Brubeck, George Gershwin and Paul Desmond are performed.
The musicians need no presentations and their play is as tight and inspired as usual. The quality is certainly as good as studio versions and in some cases higher…