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‘Birds in Baroque Music’ is the subtitle of this entertaining and imaginative programme of original pieces and arrangements. The chief protagonists are recorder and soprano with psaltery, harp, cello, viola da gamba, lute, theorbo, harpsichord and a four-part string texture providing additional strength and colour where required.

Dorothee Mields requires no introduction to Baroque music enthusiasts, who will be familiar with her fresh-sounding voice and lightly articulated technique. She is on beguiling form with her sensitive, well punctuated declamation. Among her highlights are the arias ‘Augelletti, che cantate’ and ‘Sweet bird’ from Handel’s Rinaldo and L’Allegro e il Penseroso respectively, though there are plenty more delights, including enchanting aria, ‘Du angenehme Nachtigall’ from Reinhard Keiser’s opera Ulysses, Arne’s ‘The Cuckoo from Shakespeare’s As You Like It and a tenderly inflected air, ‘Printemps’, by a certain Mr Quignard.

Recorder player and director Stefan Temmingh takes part in most of the items but his chief moment of glory occurs in a dazzling performance of Vivaldi’s concerto ‘Il Gardellino’ (‘The Goldfinch’), one of the composer’s several engaging evocations of the natural world. Temmingh plays a sopranino recorder in this piece, thus corresponding as closely as he can to the pitch of the bird. His technique is commendably agile and his ornamentation generally effective.

In addition to the ensemble pieces, there are two for solo harpsichord by Alessandro Poglietti and François Couperin, both bird-related and stylishly played by Wiebke Weidanz. Elsewhere, the Gentleman’s Band and La Folia Barockorchester provide sympathetic and apposite support. An avian triumph.

Nicholas Anderson Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Early Music Today, 2016 - ©Rhinegold Publishing