When the pandemic forced Salut! Baroque to cancel their 2020 Sydney and Canberra tours they decided to put out an album featuring a potpourri of recordings that have been in their archives for up to 12 years. It is the 10th CD to be released by the early music group, which is led jointly by recorderist Sally Melhuish and cellist Tim Blomfield, and is an absolute charmer.

Salut! Baroque album art

In among works by big hitters Vivaldi, Domenico Scarlatti and an arrangement of arias from Mozart’s The Magic Flute, the collection features some lesser-known composers, including a reissue of Melhuish’s 2008 reading of Francesco Mancini’s C Minor Recorder Concerto.

Fellow recorderist Hans-Dieter Michatz launches proceedings with Nicola Fiorenza’s Concerto in F Minor, composed in Naples where he was director of the Conservatorio di Santa Maria di Loreto until he was dismissed for violent attacks on students and colleagues. It shows the all-pervading influence of Vivaldi, alternating between playfulness and passion in the outer movements and a “singing” slow movement.

Michatz also features on the Mozart tracks, playing a czakan, or stick flute, which was originally designed to be used as a musical walking stick (Beethoven apparently owned one), and he and Melhuish combine nicely on Johann Christian Schickhardt’s Variations on La Folia.

But it’s not all recorders. The excellent baroque violinist Matthew Greco – familiar for his appearances with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Australian Haydn Ensemble – features in Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto RV332 and Niel Gow’s irresistible Lady Mary Hay’s Scots Measure, and harpsichordist Monika Kornel summons up the world of guitars and castanets with Scarlatti’s Fandango.

Title: The Special Collection
Music: Vivaldi, Mancini, Fiorenza et al.
Performers: Salut! Baroque
Label: www.baroque.com.au/CDs.html

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