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Estro Armonico Op. 3


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Amazon.com: 2 reviews
The stars were not aligned July 26 2014
By Biberfan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
When this came out, I ate it up, the chance to hear a "new" rendition of op. 3 with Hogwood and an Italian ensemble I already knew from their recordings on another label. Their Tartini discs were not 5-star renditions in my opinion, but likely 4-star readings (when, admittedly, no one else was recording them). I don't disagree with the two other current reviews on this release, however, as something didn't quite work in this recording.

Which I think has less to do with individual pieces (one performer or the recording engineer) and a summation of all of the elements that go into a good recording. Obviously, the vision between the leader and the group has to be shared and of one mind. Who is to say, but did that contribute to the performance? I will admit, some of the playing from the strings sounds weak in spots. But the biggest drawback is the recorded sound.

The instruments sound scratchy at times and thin; but baroque instruments do sound that way at times. But the imperfections are sometimes lost in the bloom of a nice performance space. This space and the way it was captured sounds way too small and close. It reminds me of what they might sound like playing in a 3-car garage. Lots of hard surfaces, almost no reverb, and everything is very transparent. It didn't help these guys that it was recorded this way... a church, for instance, might have been much more forgiving. The notes say it was recorded in a "Sala della music" but... if it's been engineered for musical performances we can, I guess, blame the recording engineers.

It's too bad... but beyond Pinnock's reading, I like Fabio Biondi's with Europa Galante and Dantone's reading with Accademia Bizantina.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Not in the race Feb. 3 2011
By J. TIMMERMAN - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I bought this on the strength of a glowing Gramophone Mag review but I am highly disappointed. I'm learning not to trust the Gramophone. For all their keen intellectual discussion of music performance, I think sometimes they are way off the mark on their performance rating, and I doubt that, despite their musical qualifications, very few of the reviewers are audiophiles that can assess recording quality objectively.

On this recording Hogwood has at his hands a mediocre provincial Italian ensemble with a scratchy tonal quality and less than ideal intonation, struggling on difficult passages. The playing is relatively bland, matched by a dead acoustic. Hogwood's 90's recording with the Academy of Ancient Music is more polished while the recording quality is warmer and more expansive. As well, it comes with the complete set of Op.10 flute concertos.

If you're after a fine recent Italian recording of the Op.3, Fabio Biondi's Europa Galante offers far more insights and interest, with more polished performance and a warmer more open sound (yet Gramophone gives it a lower rating). Although Biondi's Vivaldi Op.8 is very ordinary, being too quirky (the Gramophone loved it) his earlier Op.3 is excellent. Then there's also Pinnock's fine English Concert recording.

L'Arte dell'Arco's recording is certainly not horrible, it's just underwhelming, paling in comparison to others.


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