Excellent performances but there is a rogue tambourine on the Water Music which presumably stands in for martial percussion. Results are initially amusing but quickly irritated me. Shame, the performance is better than that
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In his notes, Kevin Mallon states that he examined an 18th century manuscript of the Water Music with John Eliot Gardiner, and he has deliberately given all this music a 'lift', with fast tempi. It certainly works for me, and apparently also for the Aradia Ensemble, who play with great relish and delicacy. I am not an lover of period instruments as a rule, and they are used here, but they are well-suited to this repertoire; instead of wincing at the sound of the brass I merely raised an eyebrow and then forgot all about it and simply enjoyed the music. Naxos has treated us to a fine recording, the 5.1 surround tracks using the rear channels sparingly, but nevertheless creating a believable soundstage. Amongst other things,the entry of a tambourine caught my attention, beautifully captured without spotlighting. The stereo tracks are unlikely to disappoint, either, from my sampling of them on a smaller, stereo-only system. What a pity that Naxos, with several other companies, has abandoned SACD. This one shows how well they could do when they tried.