„Charming“ is what Steger rightly calls Uccellini’s „Aria sopra la Bergamasca“, where he battles it out with Sabrina Frey and Stefan Temmingh on Recorder. Most of all, however, the piece, with its circling cycles of vivid variations, is a pointed anti-pole to the well-measured and stately grace of some of his colleague’s contributions. Steger has taken complete artistic control of the album and conceptualized his third full-length for Harmonia Mundi not only as an entertaining trip back in time, but as a both varied and coherent program whose combination of quicksilver solo parts and strategically placed stretches for the members of his ensemble make it an enticing proposition for the new millennium as well. With stars like Hille Perl and Lee Santana (2/3 of old music formation Los Otros) in prominent positions, he has certainly made a case of surrounding himself with a selection of stimulating equals rather than a bleak backdrop of faceless artists. Still, his approach is controlled rather than careless: It takes several spins to succumb to the charms of „Venezia 1625“ and in terms of production, it feels more chamber musical and less urgent than some more edgy comparable releases. The benefit, however, is an immersive and coherent sound: Embedded into an organic blend of constantly shifting instrumental constellations comprised of Organ, Chitarrone, Theorbo, Harp and Baroque Guitar among others, the transcribed Recorder parts feel perfectly organic. As such, the album represents an enticing chance to roam the streets of 17th-century-Italy and spend some quality time in the company of some of the slightly less known musical masters of the time.

By Tobias Fischer for tokafi – CD ‘Venezia’

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