Melba Recordings

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Arcadia Lost

Fanfare (US)
James A. Altena

This album is titled Arcadia Lost; presumably this is meant to indicate some overall connection between the four works presented here as representing in various ways the passing of an idyllic bygone era for which hearts still yearn. However, there is no explanation provided in the booklet notes, and the Britten Sinfonia is certainly the musical odd man out here. No matter...the whole nonetheless offers a very satisfying program of pieces well played.

Much beloved, The Lark Ascending has dozens of recordings in print. Here, Michael Dauth is an excellent soloist, playing with liquid beauty of tone and soulful commitment...this is a very winning performance overall.

Flos Campi is the work that comes off most strongly in this set; while the recorded competition is less stiff here, this is nonetheless a first-rate version that captures by turns the elegiac and sensuous elements of this masterly but too-little-performed score. Violist Roger Benedict renders a languorous, buttery rendition of the solo part, interweaving adroitly with principal oboist Diana Doherty, while Cantillation (recorded rather up close) contributes top-notch choral singing... this is still among the best and very much worth acquiring...

Mark Wigglesworth and the Sydney Symphony acquit themselves admirably in all the orchestral works. The recorded sound has great depth and presence, and remarkably also the kind of subtle defining background ambience that one associates with LPs...The digipak comes with an exceptionally attractive booklet with notes on the music in English, French, and German, plus the song texts and notes on the performers (including the complete roster of the orchestra) in English, illustrated with numerous color photos. If, in particular, you want additional versions of The Lark Ascending or Flos Campi for your collection, or if you want these works on SACD, or just wish to introduce these works to someone not familiar with them, this is a worthwhile choice.