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World class

a new American baroque ensemble -
discovered by JOHN BELL YOUNG

'... vigorous, gutsy and vivacious playing ...'

The Sarasa Ensemble - A Baroque Mosaic - Vivaldi, Biber, Purcell, Bach and Handel. © 2002 Sarasa

Early music devotees, take note: an exemplary new American ensemble that calls itself Sarasa may well be the most exciting thing to happen to baroque music since the emergence of William Christie and Les Arts Florissants. Its calling card is a handsomely packaged disc devoted to works of Vivaldi, Bach, Handel, Purcell and Biber.

Of course, that comes as no surprise, given the impressive individual credentials of Sarasa's musicians, at least those featured on this album. They are without exception leading authorities on baroque performance practice, as well as active performers with major orchestras and ensembles around the world. It may be that what informs their extraordinary ensemble playing, so awash in collegial geniality and near telepathic familiarity -- wherein affective precision and nuance are wed to flexibility of rhythm as well as spirit -- is a consequence of ties and life-long friendships fostered decades ago in Vermont, where they lived and studied together at the Putney School.

Throughout this recording it is abundantly clear just how pristinely informed Sarasa's musicianship really is. In a musical genre where a broad vibrato in its lush romantic sense (though it was used ornamentally) has no place aesthetically, Sarasa demonstrates just how vigorous and expressive this repertoire can be. Not given to either fetishising the music as a timid academic exercise befitting a museum, nor content, as less informed players so often are, to equalize every note and render it with mechanical dispatch, Sarasa brings it to life.

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Copyright © 4 December 2002 John Bell Young, Tampa, Florida, USA


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