Harmonia Mundi: Classical Express

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Harmonia Mudni

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And still they come: no sooner has some old (or not-so-old) friend vanished than it’s repackaged at a lower price. It’s a good way to make new friends as well – something that you might reject at £15 suddenly seems attractive at less than half-price, and if it’s presented in a two-disc set, may become irresistible.

True, Warner’s Ultima series has minimal booklet notes, and in this latest batch every recording is naughtily described as digital, which some aren’t, but DG and Harmonia Mundi are more generous and accurate with their documentation.

The recording of Mozart’s Horn Concertos on Classical Express (HCX 3957012) is dry and close, which doesn’t flatter either the natural horn of Lowell Greer, or some uncharacteristically variable playing from the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra under Nicholas McGegan.

Nicholas McGegan and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra redeem themselves from their off-day in Mozart in the first six of the Op. 6 Concerti Grossi by CORELLI (Classical Express HCX 3957014), tightly rhythmic in the fast movements, and poised and affectionate in the slower passages.

It’s superbly recorded, as are some HANDEL arias with the countertenor Drew Minter (HCX 3955183) – a voice which is too underpowered for the more upfront numbers.

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I hope that Harmonia Mundi reissues the other discs from the original set of four, particularly the one with mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. She turns up in the vocal items in a selection from BACH’s Notebook of Anna Magdalena Bach (HCX 3957042), with McGegan on harpsichord: an ideal selection for intimate listening.