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<<  -- 2 --  David Thompson    Dazzling virtuosity


A few special pleasures among many: listen to the opening concerto, for example, where the sopranino recorder is cast in the role of a goldfinch [track 1, 2:00-3:00]. The first movement depicts him with an accuracy Messiaen would have envied, and his seductive love-song second movement would certainly ensure he found a mate. RV437 is an absolute gem, and Steger shows the full range of his artistry here, notably in the ravishing minor-key aria in the middle, and in the audacious final variations, where he seizes the opportunity to strut his stuff in a movement that seems to issue the invitation 'if you've got it, flaunt it'. (He has, and he does, raising a smile at the sheer understated cheek of the ending). In all of the concerti involving Steger, the other players add their own contributions in perfect concert. Where they have the stage entirely to themselves, we can appreciate even more what a marvellous band they are. Listen [track 22, 0:01-0:55] to the thrilling attack they bring to the stormy outer movements of the tiny RV127 with which the programme ends, and the melting artistry of Duilio Galfetti, the Concertmaster, in the largo of RV155 [track 12, 2:04-2:57].

The recording is very up-front and in-the-face, but I find this refreshing and bracing, enabling one to relish every nuance of the playing.

Any complaints? Not really, but with a total timing of 54:39 another couple of concerti would have been nice, especially with playing of this calibre. Good, informative documentation. Instrument buffs will enjoy devouring the details of every instrument used, and the photograph of the four featured recorders. This disc was, for me, a revelation and a pleasure. Very strongly recommended.

Copyright © 2 January 2002 David Thompson, Eastwood, Essex, UK







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