This double CD brings together the Academy’s earliest recordings, made under the L’Oiseau-Lyre label, including the recording with which it all began in 1961. A Recital by the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, as it was snappily titled, was a close replica of the first ever Academy concert in 1959. Featuring works by Corelli, Albicastro, Torelli and Locatelli (who were part of a group of Italian baroque composers rather irreverently dubbed ‘the Italian ice-cream merchants’) as well as a Handel Concerto Grosso, the record was received with effusive praise by Gramophone. The first record was followed up by the inventively titled A Second Recital by the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, prompting Stereo Review to rave:
Aurally one of the most stunning groups of its kind… the second volume is every bit as good as the first.
The tracks from a third record from 1963, featuring works by Cherubini, Vivaldi, Geminiani, Bellini and Corelli, complete the set.