This double CD set, which pulls together recordings made by the inestimable Sir Neville Marriner and ASMF between 1965 and 1981, is loaded with treats. Disc one features Roger Lord’s superb rendition of the Oboe Concertos Nos. 1, 2a and 3, alongside versions of the overtures and ballet music from Alcina and Ariodante – wonderfully played by all the Academy’s musicians.
The program ends with Pour les Chasseurs I & II from Il Pastor Fido, which highlights the magnificently energetic and controlled playing of the brass and woodwinds. Disc two is of similar quality with a glittering reading of the Arrival of the Queen of Sheba and superb renditions of selections from Bernice, the Overture in D and the Concerto Grosso ‘Alexander’s Feast’. The Academy’s woodwind and horn players star once again in the three Concerti a due cori.
Taking full advantage of the qualities of their modern instruments, they respond delightfully to Handel’s antiphonal writing. Of course, none of this would be possible without conductor Marriner’s brilliant direction. This is music to cheer us through dark times.