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ORDONEZ: Symphonies

Naxos 8.557482

   Fine Music, August 2006
   American Record Guide, May 2006

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Phil Vendy
Fine Music, August 2006

A veritable alphabet of Baroque symphonies by another of those part-time composers whose work always intrigues me. Even in those days it wasn't the easiest route to fame and fortune, and indicates the commitment the artistic temperament so often has to make to find its reward in a materialistic society. This seems particularly apposite to a man born into a family of minor nobility, whose life ended in illness and penury. Von Ordonez nevertheless left us much to give us listening pleasure, including the splendid Sinfonia in C featured here, and it's a sign of something, though I'm not sure what, that such pleasure can be felt so strongly centuries after it was written. The CD opens in delightful style, uplifting and exciting in the effervescent way that seemed to come so naturally to these early explorers in music. The familiar Baroque horns' and strings, woodwinds and trumpets, jiggle blithely around each other, then we have a chance to enjoy the stately composure of a restful adagio before ending with a development of the main thematic ideas. Each of the sinfonias here progresses to longer, and more musically ambitious, form, over its predecessor. This CD makes all the right noises but does suffer from a commonplace laziness, all the more unfortunate given the very simplicity of the material: it lacks the clean, pure edge, the hungry bite, that would show that we still really care about what composers like von Ordonez did for us, so long ago.

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