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Pellegrina's Delight
Antonio Vivaldi -
Sonatas and chamber music for oboe
Gail Hennessy
(baroque oboe) and Nicholas Parle (keyboards)
with Rodolfo Richter, Sally Holman, Katherine Sharman and Peter McCarthy
Signum GSCD 037 [75:13]

Passacaglia Boismortier: Suites and Sonatas
Linn CKD 170 [71:22]

Signum and Linn are two record companies that rarely fail to please. Afficionados of Vivaldi and early music specialists will want to hear every bar from his prolific pen; others may feel already sated. Boismortier? A name we know; exploration of his chamber music in depth - that should be welcome?

I am disappointed to be disappointed by the Passacaglia disc, not least because I enjoyed greatly some of this same music live, at their marvellous concert with Dan Laurin in the Early Music Weekend in Greenwich last October. A good, well produced disc (though the booklet's arrangement for identifying who is playing what in each piece is a little fussy; Signum does better for Vivaldi). Nothing wrong with the playing here, but 8 works by Joseph Bodin de Boismortier (1689-1755) fail to persuade me that he is a neglected master, even though the instrumentation is nicely varied. You can hear some tracks on Linn's website and decide for yourself. Try to catch Passacaglia at one of their concerts.

Anything new to find in Vivaldi? Indeed, yes - this collection of sonatas plus a concerto and a trio sonata featuring Gail Hennessy's baroque oboe is a winner. The disc's title Pellegrina's Delight reminds us that one of the quartet sonata RV 779 was first played by four young women foundlings who trained in music at the Ospedale della Pieta in Venice, Pellegrina, Prudenza, Lucietta and Candida; charming, as is the concerto-like character of this delightful piece! Splendid playing throughout, ringing the changes on oboe and keyoards, abetted by strings and bassoon.

© Peter Grahame Woolf