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John W Barker
American Record Guide, July 2011

This recording was made in stages in 1987–89, and was issued by Philips as a 3CD set (422 370). I don’t believe it has reappeared until now.

The performances are alert, spirited, and polished. The string playing drips with shimmering 20th Century vibrato, of course. And the 12 concertos are treated as very lovely abstract music originating in a vacuum. There is little of the stylistic insight that modern-instrument conductors or leaders such as Iona Brown, Raymond Leppard, and Neville Marriner have brought to them. Fine points of 18th Century rhythm are overlooked, and movements of dance origin particularly lack the appropriate springiness.

On the other hand, as a pioneer in the realm of the conductorless chamber group, I Musici did achieve a musical coherence lacking, for example, in the flat counterpart set by the Orpheus Chamber Ensemble. For those not worried about stylistic sensitivities, listeners who relish wonderful music played as just what the notes seem to indicate and no more, this set will do very nicely. The two-decade-old stereo sound is still almost clinically vivid, with ample spread, clarity of detail, and especially apt spatial distinction made between the concertino group and the full ripieno.

There are even some detailed program notes in the booklet.

Gramophone, April 2011

VIVALDI, A.: Concertos and Sonatas, Opp. 1–12 (Complete) (I Musici) NC8802034
HANDEL, G.F.: Concerti Grossi, Op. 6 (I Musici) NC8802030
Orchestral Music (Russian) - GLINKA, M.I. / BORODIN, A.P. / SHOSTAKOVICH, D. / PROKOFIEV, S. (Overtures and Orchestral Works) (Pletnev) NC8802037

Three more Newton collections, two of them featuring the elegant and always reliable ensemble I Musici, Vivaldi’s complete Opp 1–12 and Handel’s Concerti grossi, Op 6, graceful performances and quite unlike the stylised assertiveness of certain period-instrument groups. As for Russian Overtures and Orchestral Works (Glinka, Borodin, Tchaikovsky, etc) from Mikhail Pletnev’s Russian National Orchestra, it’s great to be reminded of how Pletnev developed and refined such a formidable band so quickly. These performances are very much in the grand Russian tradition, dramatic, cleanly articulated and, for the most part, infectiously enthusiastic.

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11:26:59 AM, 6 May 2015
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