Notes and Editorial Reviews
If you enjoy baroque music that serves as a vehicle for some frankly insane virtuosity (and who doesn't?), then this disc will have you cheering. Maurice Steger plays the meanest recorder you will find anywhere, and while music for this instrument isn't usually regarded as the acme of excitement for thrill-seekers, Steger and the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin deliver blockbuster performances of all three works. From the Suite in A minor, check out Les Plaisirs or Réjouissance (the second and fourth movements, respectively), where the swift tempos, perky accents, and million-notes-a-minute recorder embellishments produce positively jaw-dropping feats of musical acrobatics. Or try the
final Tempo di Minuet of the C major concerto, where the lively underlying pulse serves as a rhythmic scaffolding for the effortless abandon of Steger's intricate melodic traceries.
Telemann's famous Overture "Hamburger Ebb und Flut" isn't a concertante piece as such, but the performance here is just as ebullient. Der stürmende Aeolus has real programmatic vividness, with every detail of the colorful orchestration (two transverse flutes, two recorders, two oboes, bassoon, strings, and continuo) adding character to the textural mix. And it's not all "sound and fury". The lovely Sarabande (Thetis asleep) and Loure (Neptune in love) are as gentle as thistledown, and one of the particular joys of Steger's contribution in his two solo works is his fullness of tone in legato passages. There's none of that "authentic" baroque hollowness to his timbre, and his intonation is preternaturally accurate in both fast and slow music. Harmonia Mundi's impeccable engineering provides the finishing touch on a disc that must count as one of the most amazing and enjoyable baroque recitals of this or any other year. [7/31/2006]
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less
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