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Posted October 1, 2010
Don't be put off by the scholarly title - "The Rise of the Italian Violin Concerto" is as enjoyable as it is edifying. Certainly, scholars can use this collection as a guide to works by Italian masters of the late Baroque era. But those new to the period, or even those drawn in by the presence of Vivaldi and Albinoni amidst lesser known composers, may be surprised to find how accessible and listenable these works are. Those expecting a set of strictly instrumental material should be forewarned: 10 tracks (spanning 19 minutes) are devoted to "Composer X's" "Laudate pueri Dominum" for voice and 5 instruments – beautifully delivered by ensemble La Serenissima with soprano Mhairi Lawson, but seemingly out of place among the string concertos that constitute the rest of the CD. (Opera lovers could view the suite as a bonus, while others could skip it and still have nearly an hour of instrumental music to enjoy). The performances are first-class throughout. "The Rise of the Italian Violin Concerto" should enhance anyone's collection of classical or Baroque music.
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