This disc, well recorded in 1983, contains two fine performances given by a well balanced set of soloists in the Magnificat and some fabulous singing from Emma Kirkby in the cantata. The solo trumpet playing in the cantata deserves special mention and it is a grave error not to list such an important solo player who is treated on a par with the vocal soloist in the opening and closing sections.
The main attention will almost certainly focus on the Magnificat which receives a generally swift reading of the choruses but not to excess. This enables the choir to enunciate clearly and still achieve considerable verve in delivery. All the soloists perform well and this is an excellent performance of a work that should thrill. Bach clearly intended it to have considerable impact and scored it with that in mind. The English Baroque Soloists are a fine group of musicians who play accurately and with good tone. This applies to all the sections of the orchestra but in this case it needs to be added that the three trumpets play in such a way that they would surely have delighted Bach.
Bearing in mind the adverse remarks made elsewhere about the sopranos in the Magnificat and also the recording balance, I have checked these issues carefully and can only report that no such problems can be detected on my own playback system, even when alerted. The equipment is good enough to be merciless with inadequate technology and, as a trumpet player, I have played the work myself and can find no fault in this performance, only plenty to praise!
Apart from the obviously short playing time of just under 42 minutes, this disc offers splendid music making and is well recorded. I would therefore suggest that it is well worth considering as an attractive purchase even with the proviso about the playing time.