"...the performance here by the Sfera Armoniosa does a fine job of bringing out the drama in the music. The players are closely in tune with each other, literally and figuratively, as well as knowing how to avoid any sort of mechanical sameness through adroit phrasing. The tempos chosen by conductor Mike Fentross are perfect. In short, this may be a live recording, but it could well have been done in a studio insofar as the musical ambiance is concerned. If you don't have these concerti grossi in your collection, this is the one recording that will be a good addition. Well worth obtaining."Fanfare Magazine, 01-3-2024
Conductor/lutenist Mike Fentross has largely earned his credits as an early music specialist. He is working all over Europe as a conductor, soloist and basso continuo player and he is professor of lute and basso continuo at the Royal Conservatory The Hague. In 2006 he founded the baroque orchestra La Sfera Armoniosa.
Mike Fentross conducted in many festivals and concerthalls like the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. the Festival van Vlaanderen, Festival d’Ambronay, Festival Oude Muziek Utrecht, Musikfestspiele Potsdam Sanssouci, Paradiso Amsterdam, Monteverdi Festival Cremona, Festival de Musica Portico de Zamora, Festival Musica Antiqua Brugge, Vantaa Early Music Festival, Bayreuth Barock and Muziekcentrum Vredenburg in Utrecht. For two times
he had the honour to conduct in the presence of Queen Beatrix of Holland. In 1988 Mike Fentross graduated at the Royal Conservatory The Hague where he studied with lute pionier Toyohiko Satoh. In 1994 he won the Van Wassenaer Competition in Amsterdam with violinist Helene Schmitt. He played chamber music with musicians as Yo Yo Ma, Ton Koopman, Janine Jansen, Marion Verbruggen, Sonia Prina, Maria Bajo, Wilbert Hazelzet, Bruce Dickey, Lucy van Dael, Andrew Lawrence King, Philippe Jarousski, Eduardo Lopez Banzo, Skip Sempe and Gerard Lesne. Mike has recorded more than 75 cd’s.
He studied conducting with Stefan Pas. As conductor he debuted in 1999 with La Dafne from Marco da Gagliano in a production of the New Opera Academie in Amsterdam. In 2006 he conducted in the presence of Queen Beatrix the modern world premiere from the opera l’Ipermestra from Cavalli in a prestigeous jubilee production from the Utrecht Early Music Festival and in 2008 he conducted a second unearthed Cavalli opera La Rosinda in a production from the Musikfestspiele Potsdam Sanssouci Potsdam. In 2009 he conducted for the first time in the big hall from the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and in the same year he was musical director in the production Granida performed in the presence of Queen Beatrix. About his debut as conductor from the Dutch Chamber Choir in 2010 in the Concertgebouw the press wrote: Conductor Mike Fentross rivalled Caravaggio with the score of the Maria Vespers. His first time conducting the Nederlands Kamerkoor was a resounding success.
Mike doesn’t only conduct Early Music, in 2004 he conducted Pierrot Lunaire from Arnold Schoenberg. The press wrote: There was great enthusiasm for Mike Fentross as conductor of a double bill consisting of Monteverdi’s Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda and Schoenberg’s Pierrot lunaire. Mike Fentross gave a performance of Pierrot lunaire that ‘appeared to come from another planet’.
In 2012 Mike made his Austrian debut in the Haydn Festival Eisenstadt with great success in a program with coloratura soprano Simone Kermes and in the same year he conducted the pre jubilee concert for the Concertgebouw in a program with solo violinist Lucy van Dael and singers Henk Neven and Andreas Scholl. In 2013 he conducted the Fairy Queen with his orchestra and the Netherlands Chamberchoir.
Since 2013 he is regularly conducting the baroque orchestra and choir of the Royal Conservatory. In 2014 he was invited by Paradiso Orchestra to conduct Beethovens Eroica. In 2016 he conducted the Netherlands Chamber Choir in a Bach, Faure program live broadcast on national radio.
...the performance here by the Sfera Armoniosa does a fine job of bringing out the drama in the music. The players are closely in tune with each other, literally and figuratively, as well as knowing how to avoid any sort of mechanical sameness through adroit phrasing. The tempos chosen by conductor Mike Fentross are perfect. In short, this may be a live recording, but it could well have been done in a studio insofar as the musical ambiance is concerned. If you don't have these concerti grossi in your collection, this is the one recording that will be a good addition. Well worth obtaining.
Fanfare Magazine, 01-3-2024
With deep resonant chords from Mike Fentross' theobro, La Sfera Armonioso begins Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer's Concerto No. 1. This mournful Grave movement shortly gives way to a lively Allegro and we're off to the races. And wow, such nice capture of timbre, dynamics and air Bert van der Wolf has achieved in this live performance recording.
Positive Feedback, 28-1-2024
Joining them is Mike Fentross, conductor and string player (theorbo and baroque guitar), who gives a beautifully balanced interpretation with his ensemble La Sfera Armoniosa: in the slow parts, which usually have the designation grave, largo and andante, warm and sensitive, in the faster parts, such as an allegro, presto or vivace, energetic and swinging.
The ensemble La Sfera Armoniosa under the direction of Mike Fentross plays the Concerti for strings and basso continuo with great dedication and elegance. All the musicians seem to be aware that von Wassenaer’s music is something very special. The wonderful playing of the ensemble does justice to the quality of the music at every moment.