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Bach & 17C Italian music on Magnatune

Introduced by chance to the download-only website Magnatune - see link in our review of Anneke Scott's natural horn recital - I have sampled two of their releases.

One of the latest is from Ensemble Carpe Diem. http://magnatune.com/artists/albums/ecarpediem-dolcimiei/.

This specialist early music group hails from Geneva in French Switzerland, where the music was recorded in 2002. Their 56 mins sequence of 17 C Italian music by Monteverdi, Vecchi and many lesser-known others makes for pleasurable listening, downloaded in good quality sound, with WAV files available for all their albums, so that the audio is of CD quality. A snag is the skimpy background information which Carpe Diem provided (available on .pdf) ...

There is a full listing provided, but it's in white-on-black, so print-out is greedy of black computer ink !

More importantly for Musical Pointers readers, there are no texts or translations. There is an appropriate introductory essay in French. With this sort of music English translations are probably not essential, but it would be good to have the Itallian words at least. The sequence ends with Monteverdi's Chiome d'oro, which got me hooked on Monteverdi longer ago than I care to remember, in Nadia Boulanger's famous 1917 recording!

Unreservedly recommendable is an excellent programme of Bach cantatas, with orchestral music by Purcell and Erlebach, from the expert period instrument group The Bach Players, feauring chaconnes.

Given one-to-a-part as pioneered by Rifkin, these are winning, intimate performances, with full texts and English translations together with an informative interview with their flutist on the conductor-less group's democratic performance policies on .pdf. This release has all that one would expect in a high quality CD.

We will continue to explore Magnatune, which may prove particularly attractive for those of our readers who have CD storage problems...

Peter Woolf

See a recent feature about Magnatune's founder, John Buckman, in this month's Independent.

A quaint recording of of Boismortier Sonatas for two bassoons on Magnatune [MSR Classics MS 1170] has been drawn to my attention, because of MuscalPointers' particular interest in the bassoon; intriguing and lively music, but not one to listen to straight through.

Again, as with the Geneva group, there is really no background information and the track listing is again printed white-on-black, a deterrent to priniting it out.