4 Times Baroque - Italian Pieces
Jan Nigges (recorder), Jonas Zschenderlein (violin), Karl Simko (cello), and Alexander von Heißen make up a new ensemble known as 4 Times Baroque - one of the few baroque ensembles I can think of using a numeral as part of their name.
In their debut recording, they provide a program in the context of a concert pulling together a wide variety of pieces: the overture from Handel's Rinaldo, two Vivaldi concertos, the trio sonata by Telemann (or, is it more appropriately by Pierre Prowo?), two solo sonatas by Corelli (one played by violin, the other by recorder), a Sammartini sonata, and the Merula Ciaccona.
Overall, the program works to present the ensemble, complete with their energy, drive, and virtuosity. As a young ensemble, they're quick, I think, to emulate those who came before in terms of style, but remarkably, they do so very well.
Since I've been enjoying this at the same time as Mr. Zschenderlein's other recording with Mr. von Heißen entitled Pure, I'm happy to report the sound quality in this recording seems superior. In the Corelli sonata for violin (op. 5, no. 7), the cello's sound is somewhat muddled. There are times, too, that I wish the recorder was just a tad more forward in the mix.
And that's ultimately my only reservation with this otherwise outstandiung recording: the balance in the recording isn't the most ideal. The performances leave nothing on the floor. These four musicians most definitely want the music to speak to the a contemporary audience. My guess is that they've been fans of the likes of Maurice Steger and Il Giardino Armonico.
The only decision you'll have to make is if you already own these pieces in your collection. This recording would serve as a fitting introduction to some of these pieces, but also add variations to the well-stocked library.