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Ardella Crawford
American Record Guide, November 2011

The music is lively and pleasant to listen to—indeed…

The musicians do justice to this enjoyable music and, given the relatively unusual nature of the program, this will be an excellent addition to your collection.

To read the complete review, please visit American Record Guide online.

George Chien
Fanfare, November 2011

Spirited performances by the Budapest Strings, with a major assist from the always estimable Lajos Lencsés, make a strong case for Salieri’s music. Lencsés teams with concertmaster Béla Bánfalvi and cellist Károly Botvay, the group’s artistic director, in the triple concerto and makes beautiful music with flutist János Bálint in the flute and oboe concerto. It all adds up to a most enjoyable disc.

…this new Capriccio disc is well worth hearing.

Brian Wilson
MusicWeb International, September 2011

This recording was first released in 1995. I’m pleased that Capriccio have reissued it now but a 53-minute CD is no better value now than it was 16 years ago, even with a much brighter more eye-catching front cover. Subscribers to the Naxos Music Library can listen to that earlier version with its much plainer cover and compare it with the recordings from Naxos and Chandos which I mention below.

All the music here dates from Salieri’s early period of employment in Vienna. It’s all attractive enough to banish the impression which has held sway for far too long that his music is boring and incompetent—an impression originally fostered by Leopold Mozart rather than his son, with whom Salieri appears to have been on good terms. Forget the film Amadeus—excellent drama but a travesty of history.

The highlight of the CD is the short chamber-symphony La Veneziana which gives its name to the recording as a whole, derived from the opera la Scuola de’gelosi, a work written for the Venetian Carnival, hence the masked lady on the CD cover. When it was performed at Esterháza in 1780 Haydn conducted it.

The Triple Concerto is much less adventurous but still very attractive. The slow movement offers opportunities for each of the soloists in turn to shine, but the finale is rather too close to the kind of routine composition which Mozart parodies in his Musical Joke. I note, however, that no less an authority on the music of the period than H.C. Robbins Landon thought the work as a whole deft and entertaining in the manner of the music which Haydn had composed in the previous decade.

The Concerto for flute and oboe falls somewhere between the other two works in terms of inspiration. I marginally preferred this performance to the slightly heavier version conducted by Richard Hickox on Chandos (CHAN 9051), coupled with the Mozart flute and harp concerto, of which most collectors will already have a recording.

The Budapest Strings have a good track-record in music of the baroque and classical periods, with a number of excellent releases to their credit—a recommendable version of Vivaldi’s Op. 8/5–8, 10–12, for example (8.550189). Soloists, orchestra, leader and artistic director alike contribute to a very successful recording. As portrayed in the booklet, the Budapest Strings are a small ensemble—16 in all—but the rather large-scale recording makes them sound more numerous.

The quality of the music, performances and recording combine to add to my enjoyment of this issue. If only Capriccio could have found more music to boost the playing time or reissued it at a lower price, my appreciation would have been almost complete.

V. Vasan, July 2011

Though often ignored, underplayed, or even reviled, Antonio Salieri is a brilliant composer who deserves to be honored among all the great composers, including his student W.A. Mozart. Fortunately, the Budapest Strings do Salieri’s compositions justice on this bright, cheerful album of three works for chamber orchestra. Salieri’s Concerto for oboe, violin, cello, and orchestra is simply lovely. Beginning with a bright, full, assured sound from the orchestra, it invites the listener on a musical journey that is never less than engaging. The soloists play beautifully together, never missing a note. The violinist has a solid core to his sound; it is especially notable in the Cantabile, which is richly textured, even for a slow movement. Each instrument’s voice in the orchestra is carefully shaped, and this brings out the counterpoint and various lines in the music. Certainly, the syncopation before the end of the second movement is a bit odd, but Salieri compensates by giving the listener an elegant, concluding movement. The recording quality is excellent, and the musicians come across as confident and assured without being aggressive. The second work on the album is a double concerto with orchestra. One can hear the bow attacks in the sprightly beginning, contrasting with the fluid agility of the flute and the pinpoint precision of the oboe. All the accents are accurately observed, and the orchestra plays with vigor. The stately Largo that follows maintains a nice pulsing feel underneath the soloists’ lines. The flute and oboe play in perfect unison in the Allegretto, with a sense of playfulness. The oboe’s articulation is clear, and he, too, is confident and solid in his technique. Oddly, it is the title tracks that are the least noteworthy on this album, though they are certainly well done. One might hear echoes of The Marriage of Figaro in the beginning of La Veneziana, where the strings play together wonderfully. Actually, perhaps it is more accurate to say that the spirit of The Marriage of Figaro drew on inspiration from the teacher. Conductor Bánfalvi draws out an Andantino grazioso that is never dull or motionless (something that often happens in slower movements of orchestral works). All of this raises an inevitable yet perhaps unfair question: how does Salieri’s work differ from Mozart’s? One might say that this music feels more mature and textured, whereas the latter very often placed a strong emphasis on melody. But it is best to simply evaluate Salieri’s works on their own terms, and if these pieces are representative, they are impressive.

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