DESKTOP
TABLET (max. 1024px)
MOBILE (max. 640px)
Return to Top
Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

Album review: Kevin Mallon's gorgeous, elegant take on Handel Concerti Grossi

By John Terauds on March 8, 2013

mallon

Toronto’s Aradia Ensemble is an existentialist philosopher’s dream: it only exists when it’s making music. When it’s not, it is a concept masterminded by peripatetic Toronto conductor Kevin Mallon. It is he who deserves the bulk of the credit for a magnificent new Naxos 3-CD box containing the 12 Op. 6 Concerti Grossi by George Frideric Handel.

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, the founder of Musical Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds

handelBesides Mallon, this box of musical wonders wouldn’t have been possible without Tafelmusik, which supplied six key members of the period-instrument Aradia band for the recording sessions at Grace Church-on-the-Hill in August, 2011. The rest of a total of 25 players come from our growing community of international-class freelancers.

Mallon leads the enterprise from the first violin desk and contributes several solos.

The result is a model of careful understatement enhanced by an impeccable sense of tempo, phrasing and breathing in the music.

Having two dozen players in this pick-up orchestra is enough to provide the sound with the right heft, while maintaining clear textures. Mallon has enriched the sound further by adding oboe parts to all but Concerto Grosso No. 4. Handel had written some of his own, and Mallon has supplemented these by having the oboe double other parts.

The reverberant acoustic at the church gives the sound spaciousness and warmth without blurring any instrument articulations. But, to an attentive listener, it does occasionally sound like different movements of the same concerto were recorded at different times or using different microphone settings.

The whole focus is on the extraordinary beauty of these 12 pieces published in 1740, each containing four to six movements in contrasting styles. Handel borrowed freely from himself as well as other composers he admired.

A concerto grosso is a symphonic piece where individuals or groups within the orchestra get highlighted passages to play, enhancing the existing shifts in the orchestral texture as well as the speed and overall dynamics of each piece to make for rich listening.

The bottom line is that this is an excellent recording of beautiful music that rewards both a casual listener and a serious devotee. And, because the Aradia Ensemble exists so infrequently, this is pretty much the only way to savour this wonderful musicianship.

For all the details, including audio samples, click here. Naxos has published a thorough background interview with Mallon to go with the album release here.

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, the founder of Musical Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300
comments powered by Disqus

Ludwig Van Toronto

SCRUTINY | Toronto Operetta Theatre’s Candide Kicks Off the Bernstein Centenary

By Robin Roger on December 29, 2017

Technically speaking, Leonard Bernstein’s centenary year begins at midnight Sunday night, but by then Toronto Operetta Theatre will be well ahead of the pack of homage-payers, after three performances of Bernstein’s idiosyncratic work of genius, Candide.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

RECORD KEEPING | Jane Coop Handles Prokofiev With Ease In Re-Issue With The Calgary Phil

By Paul E. Robinson on January 11, 2018

Given the diminished state of the classical recording business today, even the most distinguished artists have a tough time putting out concerto recordings. Jane Coop has done the next best thing in re-issuing recordings by the now-defunct CBC Records.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

LEBRECHT LISTENS | You Can Hardly Tell It’s Stravinsky

By Norman Lebrecht on January 13, 2018

Not another Rite! I hear you cry. Indeed not. This immaculate performance by Riccardo Chailly and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra eschews the usual brutality.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_low_590x300
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700

We have detected that you are using an adblocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website. Please whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.