In the 2015 / 2016 season, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra celebrates a proud 125-year history of bringing the best in classical music performances to audiences right across Scotland and beyond. Marking its recording relationship with the Orchestra, Chandos has compiled a two-disc set (at the price of one CD) of the finest of thirty years of recordings that have shaped the reputation of the Orchestra as well as the label. The RSNO has amassed a tremendous discography on Chandos over the years, including great recording series devoted to works by Dvorak, Elgar, and Prokofiev. Now on SACD, its releases continue to receive high praise.
This is a reissue of a recording from 1993 (re-released a few years ago and deleted in 2003), recently remastered for SACD, and it really impresses with a renewed presence and impact, even on standard CD playback. As I said in my original review, Savall's reading "comes as close as these things can to placing us in the best seat in the house and treats us to a rare experience: the sensation of believing we're hearing a ruggedly familiar piece for the first time. Literally bursting with energy, scintillating strings, blazing horns, and incisive winds, and never boring even for one second, these performances give you Handel at his most exciting." If you have the earlier release, you probably don't need this one–unless you now own an SACD system–but it does deserve a place in every Handel collection, not only for the unsurpassed performances, but also for the effect of Savall's several decidedly "non-standard" tempos(!), and of course for the phenomenal sound, which now must have reached its ultimate realism in this format.