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Music for Marian Festivals

Nurial Rial (soprano) & Bell'Arte Salzburg/Annegret Siedel

BERLIN CLASSICS 0016412BC [70 mins]

A charming disc mainly of 17th century devotional material dedicated to the Virgin Mary from the South German, Hapsburg and Italian Courts. The basic ensemble of two violins, three gambas and basso continuo is varied from item to item and there are somenon-vocal items.

The soloist is a real find, with a lovely voice and captivating style; check out the link above - you may be tempted towards her other recordings! The composers include CALDARA, BIBER, CAVALLI and many likely unknown names from a century whose riches have only been explored in depth during the last of ours.

Full information with full texts and translations make this a desirable acquisition.

In Nativitate Domini
Seventeenth Century Christmas Eve

Emma Kirkby, Susanne Ryden & Bell'Arte Salzburg/Annegret Siedel

BERLIN CLASSICS 0016242BC [63 mins]

More than a dozen composers, including Biber, Schmeltzer & Schutz in sacred motets etc; good, little known repertoire with useful introductions in English but the texts only in Latin and German (which is not a great disadvantage). Production standards again high.

A recording group worth watching; http://www.bellartesalzburg.de/becdsalzbm.htm.

Schmelzer & Co. - Music at the Habsburg Court

Bertali, Buonamente, Fux, Muffat etc

Challenge Classics - CC72339 [76 mins]

For me, this is the gem of the batch; secular music featuring "the last, virtuosic works" for baroque cornetto, dulcian, trombone before they were supplanted in the 18th C.

Hugely entertaining, suitable for outdoor listening as well as on your iPod, these players relish the intricacies of this very contrapuntal 17 C music, combined to ring the changes of the line-up's possibilities.

It is supported with excellent notes by the group's keyboard player, who contributes a splendid solo harpsichord Passacaglia by Muffat.

A disc not to be missed.

Peter Grahame Woolf

See also: Stylus Phantasticus in 17.C North German Instrumental Music