The too-long silent Rare Fruits Council has released a new recording featuring Venetian baroque works entitled Venezia. Of course, I need to point out that the roster of this beloved council has changed; Kraemer is still the leader on violin, but has added a new cast of players: * Manfredo Kraemer, conductor & violin * Guadalupe del Moral, violin * José Manuel Navarro, violin, viola * Andoni Mercero, violin, viola * Marco Ceccato, cello * Xavier Diaz, archlute * Luca Guglielmi, harpsichord, organ No doubt, excluding well-known keyboard player Mr. Guglielmi, the ensemble has taken on some Argentine players, but the overall sound of the ensemble is still high. (In fact, this is one of the larger representations of the ensemble, to my knowledge, with previous recordings focusing on a trio texture with violinist Pablo Valetti.) The music favors Johann Rosenmüller, but also adds Legrenzi and Stradella to the mix. First thing to notice is the confidence by which the ensemble plays the music. While RFC in the past has had an almost harsh hand on the music, playing with some very intense masculinity, the confidence remains without the overly harsh attack. This music is most definitely alive in the hands of the ensemble. The style of this mid-Venetian music in an almost-Phanastic style, in as much as little short movements that contrast one another. Imitative passages in the upper voices are the norm, as are plenty of more mellow exchanges with cadences that invite the most affective ornamentation. RFC doesn't take a tame take on the faster passages, instead, they dive in at full speed, which is both exciting and I believe, in the spirit of the music. So yes, feel confident that this is among the strongest performances of such works. Comparing with others in my collection from this time period and from works that highlight a German-Venetian connection, this is a pristine recording, a completely solid presentation of these works that have equal measures of sensitivity and technical "bravura." Links of interest: * Johann Rosenmüller * Giovanni Legrenzi * Alessandro Stradella It appears that Stradella had the most adventurous of lives; Rosenmüller's was also not without drama. It's always a stretch to project one's experiences in life with the music written, but certainly knowing something about the lives of the composers can make for many insightful observations. If these composers are new to you, I find their instrumental repertoire easy listening. This disc makes a good introduction, really a garden of fresh sounds. The music in many ways is less formulaic than later Baroque works (think Corelli, Vivaldi), and in many ways light in texture. Recommended!