Handel: Twelve Grand Concertos
Is the world a smaller place in the twenty first century than it was in the eighteenth century? Consider first that this three-disc set on the Swedish BIS label features the Polish period-instrument ensemble Arte dei Suonatori led by French conductor Martin Gester. Then consider that the music they are performing is the "Concerto Grossi, Op. 6," of the German-born, Italian-trained, and English-based composer George Frederick Handel. But though half a dozen European countries are thus represented here, the final impression is of unfettered and unblinkered music-making of the highest order. Gester's conducting is light and lively with clear textures, buoyant tempos, and lucid counterpoint. Arte dei Suonatori's playing is crisp and colorful with a tight ensemble plus brilliant soloists. Together, the French conductor and the Polish orchestra turn in infectious performances of these popular works that rival the best period-instrument performances of the digital era for polish, style, and sheer beauty, and the Swedish label grants them clear, bright, and deep super audio digital sound.