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Alan Swanson
Fanfare, September 2012

The intensity of the concentration of all the players and the simple, even discreet, nods from Marriner that set them going are a lesson not in control but in collective expression. Handel’s Sheba was a favorite of Thomas Beecham, albeit heavily tarted up in full orchestral array. Marriner and the Academy take it as it is, and use their modern instruments with an awareness of what Handel might have heard without imaging that they are reproducing it. The queen’s arrival is joyful rather than stately. This is also true of the concerto grosso. The string playing is lean, but not timid. These two pieces were recorded by the BBC in the then-recently renovated St. John’s, Smith Square, and the space and the music are well captured. The passing autos and the evident passing time of day lend a quotidian flavor to the enterprise.

…in the…performance of Mendelssohn’s Fourth Symphony…the lightness of touch we could hear 10 years earlier in the Handel comes alive again in Mendelssohn’s most buoyant music. This is, simply, a fine, well-balanced, even elegant, performance and is a pleasure to hear…this all makes a fine program. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

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