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Ensemble Zefiro was founded in 1989 by oboists Alfredo Bernardini and Paolo Grazzi together with bassoonist Alberto Grazzi and consists of talented musicians drawn from leading Baroque orchestras. Zefiro regularly appears to great acclaim at major European, Asian and South American festivals. Its recordings have received accolades around the world, including ‘Grand Prix du Disque’, supporting Zefiro’s reputation for virtuosic performances and a lively approach to repertoire. On the Ensemble’s latest stunning CD, the group has chosen Haendel’s famous ‘Music for the Royal Fireworks’ together with four Concerti. There is much here of interest for the listener including well-known melodies from the ever-popular oratorio, ‘The Messiah’.
“…once past the curious opening… the players want for nothing in immediacy or colour. They contrive majesty without pomposity, and there's a deal of gleeful thrusting in the confrontational face-offs which animate the Allegro continuation. The easeful suavity of the 'Bourrée' neatly counterpoints the arcadian lilt of 'La paix', while the two concluding menuets are appealingly crisp and... Laced with infectious swagger, the three Concerti a due cori... provide an inspired and inspiring coupling.”
“The Italian ensemble Zefiro, directed by oboist Alfredo Bernardini, specialise in 18th-century music that gives prominence towards wind instruments. This lends itself to Handel's Musicfor the Royal Fireworks, written for the public celebrations of the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle in London's Green Park (1749). Zefiro play the grand Ouverture with the perfect synthesis of splendour and dance-like charisma (too many versions possess too little of the latter). 'La réjouissance' trips along lightly without a hint of clumsiness, but still has ample juicy magnificence. There are several other good recordings available, but this zesty and fluid performance is a welcome change from stodgy readings in which everything is hammered home mercilessly. Zefiro bring a marvellous sense of light and shade to this music. Maybe Bernardini's sparkling and communicative approach would have been too subtle for the great British outdoors in 1749, but it is curious that this beautifully engineered recording was made outside in the cloisters of a former Jesuit college in Sicily. Zefiro also perform all three of the Concerti perdue cori (1747-48) that Handel arranged for orchestra and two 'choirs' of woodwind and brass. These were intended as entr'actes in oratorio concerts, and it is fun to play 'name that tune'. These shapely performances are phrased and paced to perfection, and exploit an enjoyable range of instrumental colours (whether oboe trios or bucolic horns, almost everything here feels right). This is one of the most enjoyable discs of Handel's orchestral music in a long time.”
“Zefiro play the grand Ouverture with the perfect synthesis of splendour and dance-like charisma… "La réjouissance" trips along lightly without a hint of clumsiness, but still has ample juicy magnificence. There are several other good recordings available, but this zesty and fluid performance is a welcome change from stodgy readings in which everything is hammered home mercilessly. Zefiro bring a marvellous sense of light and shade to this music. Zefiro also perform all three of the Concerti per due cori... These shapely performances are phrased and paced to perfection... This is one of the most enjoyable discs of Handel's orchestral music to have come my way in a long time...”
The Independent on Sunday
19th July 2009
“What makes the disc into a must-hear is the pairing with the three Concerto a due cori, Handel's last, ebullient recycling of "greatest hits" from his operas and Italian cantatas.”
2nd August 2009
“What the Italian wind-based orchestra Zefiro, led by oboist Alfredo Bernardini, achieve here is remarkable, giving these ceremonial masterpieces an expressive lilt and rounded warmth - no relentless rhythms, but perky dances, gracious phrasing and, in the famous fireworks music, an unexpected depth of emotion.”
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