The Amsterdam Loeki Stardust Quartet (Daniel Bruggen, Bertho Driever, Daniel Koschitzki, Karel van Steenhven, recorders)
CHANNEL CLASSICS CCS SA 19403 (F) (DDD) TT: 69:37 (5 channel)

HAYDN: Symphony No. 93 in D. Symphony No. 94 in G "Surprise." Symphony No. 101 in D "The Clock." (all arr. Salomon)
Florigium (Ashley Solomon, flute; Kati Debretzeni and Rodolfo Richter, violins; Jane Rogers, viola; Jennifer Morsches, cello;l James Johnstone, fortepiano)
CHANNEL CLASSICS CCS SA 19603 (F) (DDD) TT: 72:28 (5 channel>

Channel Classics here offers two top-price discs ($25 list) of repertory that doesn't seem particularly appropriate for "surround sound." The Amsterdam Loecki Stardust Quartet consists of four virtuoso artists of the recorder performing mostly their own arrangements, primarily music of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, delving into the 20th century with works by Stefan Pohlit (who wrote the only original work for recorders on this disk) and Dmitri Shostakovich. In the collection there are some original fugues and other works are given the "fugue treatment". No question whatever about virtuosity of the performers who have been recorded in a resonant hall. They are right up front with lots of ambient sound from the rear.The temptation to place one musician in each corner has been resisted—although it surely would have been intriguing for the listener.

Florigium has been on the music scene for about a decade and is recognized as one of the finest period instrument ensembles of our time. The group is headed by Ashley Solomon who plays a four-keyed flute. She made these arrangements for Florigium of three of Haydn's "London" symphonies; there will be three more disks that will contain the remaining nine. Early-music specialists may wish to have these splendid, spirited performances of three of Haydn's best-known symphonies in small-scale treatment, but I imagine most listeners would prefer the original orchestral versions. Haydn's "surprise" in the slow movement of Symphony No. 94 doesn't amount to much here. As with the Loeki Stardust Quartet above, musical values are high. If this is the way you wish to hear Haydn symphonies, here it is.

R.E.B. (September 2003)