J.S. Bach, Monica Huggett, Gonzalo X. Ruiz

My latest CD mini-review for the WRTI E-newsletter. You can read all my CD reviews here.

Orchestral Suites for a young prince
J.S. Bach Orchestral Suites
Monica Huggett, Ensemble Sonnerie
Gonzalo X. Ruiz, oboe
Avie 2171

As if the modern oboe weren’t difficult enough to manage, somebody got the idea to remove all of its hardware and play it the way they did 300 years ago. This is the Baroque oboe, and it is notorious, even among period instruments, for its moodiness and independent streak, this feline of instruments.

Gonzalo Ruiz, however, is a lion-tamer. If you know nothing about the dangers early instruments present with intonation and responsiveness, you will merely love this CD. But if you are aware of the extreme-sport adventurousness of Historically Informed Performance (that’s right, HIP, they really call it that), you will be picking your jaw off the floor every minute or two to say: Wow.

This is that amazing. Ruiz reconstructs the Suite No. 2 for oboe solo instead of flute, and your head will swim at the smooth beauty of it. Violinist Monica Huggett leads Ensemble Sonnerie with intelligence and grace. The playing on this Grammy-nominated CD is supple and radiant, and Bach’s stature grows even more (if that’s possible). You’ve made it through 2009; treat yourself to a Wow.

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