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Posted January 17, 2011
This disc contains both parts of the Ode written in honor of St. Cecilia, HWV 75. The piece itself marries detailed music making and requires solid vocal contributions from the featured soloists, while at the same time not coming across as too heavy sounding. This demands a joyful and energetic touch from the orchestra (and its conductor), as well as inspired performances from the soloists. The Frankfurt Baroque Orchestra more than does its job here, providing deliciously enjoyable music for the soloists to launch themselves from. Unfortunately, while each individual soloist performs their role well, the performances themselves rarely sparkle -- each featured solo and recitative are executed correctly, but as a whole there seems to be something missing.
I cannot point to one particular thing that seems lacking - rather, as a whole it seems as if either the orchestra outshines the soloists, or the soloists can't quite match the orchestra's energy level. With respect to recording quality, the piece itself is well recorded, and the acoustics of the venue are certainly adequate. But again, there is *something* lacking. That being said, if what you are looking for is a recording of this piece that you can put on in the background and not worry about being suddenly distracted, then this is definitely a recording worth purchasing - ditto if you are looking to complete a collection of Handel's works. On the other hand, if you want a performance that enthralls you and makes you stop what you are doing to pay attention to it, then this probably won't fit the bill.