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Reviews: Handel: Concerti Grossi Op. 6 - The Avison Ensemble

Reviews: 4

Review by JJ September 14, 2010 (3 of 12 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
The Concerti Grossi Opus 6 by Haendel are the “natural” descendants of a pallet of famous composers, “from the glorious tradition of a Torelli and above all a Corelli, whose Concerti Grossi Opus 6 were first published in Amsterdam in 1714, even if they were first played in Rome in 1682,” explains Marc Vignal, who adds: “In England, the Opus 2 by Albinoni first appeared in 1709, the Opus 3 by Vivaldi no doubt in 1714, the Opus 6 by Corelli in 1715, and the Opus 3 by Geminiani towards 1732. It was perhaps John Walsh himself, who became the Haendel’s principal publisher, who asked him to become of member of this distinguished lineage.” The Avison Ensemble, under the direction of Pavlo Beznosiuk, here offers us no less than a small musical miracle. Indeed, with exemplary cohesion, each and every musician gives his best, and clarity dominates the ensemble with radiance rarely heard. Everything seems to be weightless, ethereal even, all for our pleasure. Here is a landmark SACD, sumptuously recorded, that one should not hesitate to acquire.

Jean-Jacques Millo
Translation Lawrence Schulman

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Review by DWalcutt October 17, 2010 (8 of 10 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I find the sound to have an unpleasant, shrill quality, not up to the usual Linn standard. In the loud, tutti violin pasages, the sound jumps out and bites the listener. My feeling is that the microphones were too closely placed and not well mixed. An unusual number of thumps are also heard from the players, not really a problem, but which I take as another sign that the microphones are badly placed. As for the playing, I found the Ensemble to lack polish; an excellent teaching director could improve their musicality, for sure. I also own the BIS recording of Opus 6 and would point potential buyers in that direction, as the first choice. Incidentally, there seems to be, as of now, no DSD recording of Handel's Opus 6, and so the field remains wide open, as far as SACD recordings go.

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Review by jeff3948 January 2, 2012 (6 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I listened to this in Linn's full 5.1 surround sound which is on the SACD layer.
I have several recordings of Handel’s Op. 6, by Hogwood, Pinnock, Manze, and Gester. But I’ll only compare the Avison with it’s direct multi-channel SACD competitor, Arte dei Suonatori conducted by Martin Gestor on the BIS label.

Performance
I have to say I was a little disappointed in both the performance and recording especially compared to the SACD by Arte dei Suonatori directed by Martin Gester on the BIS label. I found Pavlo Beznosiuk and the Avison Ensemble's melodic lines not as beautifully shaped in the slow movements and not as vivaciousness in the quick movements. Some of Pavlo Beznosiuk's phrasing and articulation is a little boring and a little awkward especially compared to that done by Aueliusz and Ewa Golinska with the Arte dei Suonatori on the BIS label.

Recording
I found the recording with the Avison Ensemble to be harsh, flat, dry and boxy with almost no reverberation of the recording venue audible. It actually became irritating to listen to after a while. However, the recording quality achieved by the BIS engineers on the multi-channel SACD is luxurious with the perfect reverberation of the Radio Hall, Wroclaw, Poland captured beautifully. Also, the BIS engineers were still able to capture details and placement of the instruments precisely.

Conclusion:
Beznosiuk and the Avison Ensemble just do not live up to the praise and hype that I have read about this recording. The recording by Arte dei Suonatori conducted by Martin Gestor is by far the best available performance and recording, even better than Hogwood, Pinnock, Manze and now Beznosiuk. To read more details about the Gester performance, please read my review of the Handel Op. 6 by the Arte dei Suonatori conducted by Martin Gestor here: /showreviews/5400

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Review by classical_confab December 21, 2013 (2 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Both the performance and audio quality were exceptional to my humble ears. I found the playing to be precise and exact, yet not analytical, while beautifully retaining the emotional impact of the composer's intent. Other performances of this work are usually performed at a faster tempo (Jordi Savall) or else excruciatingly slow (Slovak Chamber Orchestra). The Avison Ensemble's interpretation is balanced just right, both in tempo, delicacy, and force. I couldn't be more pleased.

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