on 9 June 2012
I'm a big fan of Orpheus and I've been somewhat disappointed to listen to their recording of these great works, and regrettably I've had to take away a star in my rating - they score though consistently 5.
The approach to this production was to record a chamber-music, quiet, delicate, almost string-quartet version of the famous Handel works. According to this purpose, Orpheus was not fattened for the occassion, keeping their numbers low, including a single double bass.
This approach didn't work very well because the works are noisy, brassy, furious in their dance-like rythm, even percussion comes under the spotlight; scored for dozens of strings and winds, to be played in the open air.
Then there is the fact that Orpheus doesn't do (luckily) old instruments, so that the brass is more powerful, brilliant that in the 'historical' approach, requiring a rebalancing of the sound, either live or 'factory', studio work.
The result is a dwarfing of the lower strings' sound; that rich bass we normally associate with DG, especially in the good old analogue 70s, was lost in this recording, most unfortunately.
The thinning of the sound doesn't go down well with these celebratory, enthusiastic pieces; having said all this, the quality of the players also shines through, the brass is splendid, both strings and wind score a big goal in the improvisation department, outdoing the 'historical' ensembles in that speciality they value most.
In the end, I really like this CD, because it showcases playing of the utmost quality; I miss only the massive forces that would do the work more justice, and the right capturing of the lower sounds by the engineers.
No problem: there are as many recordings of this work, as there are stars in the sky!
All Orpheus admirers, however, will value this item in their collections.