Top positive review
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For many, this is simply THE definitive version
on 1 March 2013
The music on this disc, very well recorded in the early 1980's, perfectly brings together The Water Music and The Fireworks Music suites previously found on separate issues. It was at this time that period music performance was finally surging ahead as a result of considerably improved player skills in terms of overcoming the obstacles posed by the older styles of instruments. The English Concert under Trevor Pinnock was a major influence in this development and these two suites were major successes within that success.
Today, thirty years later, they retain their appeal. The tuning, particularly in the woodwind is no longer a problem for listeners and the earlier acerbic string timbres have disappeared. The brass and timpani are satisfyingly punchy without being overwhelming. The textures have been clarified so that every orchestral detail 'tells' and the internal balance is now clearly correct. The remastering has added some depth and space to the sound stage thus improving slightly a previously excellent pair of recordings. In addition, the re-coupling makes these recordings a far more generous offer than before. The remainder of the original Fireworks disc, two horn concertos, has now been re-coupled with the excellent and sonically improved Coronation Anthems and thus the original three discs have been reduced to two discs with enhanced mastering.
Pinnock consistently chooses exactly the most appropriate tempi for maximum effect throughout these pieces and the music is able to both 'dance' and to be heroic and majestic as appropriate. Everything feels just right.
For many this pair of performances was the definitive statement at the time of their first issue and has remained so ever since. There is little that can be said to seriously challenge that.
I would therefore suggest that prospective new purchasers should, at the very least, give this very fine disc the most serious consideration. I would also suggest that the companion disc of the Coronation Anthems and two horn concertos is also well worth considering.