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CLASSICAL, Ensemble Battistin, The Perfection of Music, Masterpieces of the French Baroque, (ABC Classics). Reviewed by Patricia Kelly

RESEARCH into period music performance during the mid to late 20th century produced a wealth of scholarly material that made possible recordings such as this sophisticated disc from University of Western Australia and Edith Cowan University. Unlike the geologist or archaeologist whose diggings into the past interpret but do not change what they see, the musicologist can interpret but can only approximate the instrumental and vocal quality produced in centuries before electronic recording could verify the process.

The program of this CD, the first of five exploring early 18th century French chamber music, is the outcome of study by musicologist David Tunley. The shimmering performance by Ensemble Battistin, with soprano Taryn Fiebig and mezzo Fiona Campbell, of two cantatas each by Jean-Baptiste Stuck and Michel Pignolet De Mont├ęclair follows faithfully the French imperative to make the rhythms dance. The playing is clear, light and phrased with class, but oh, why do singers have to whine on to notes instead of going squarely to the sound's core?

Shaun: It's a called a port de voix, darling. :)