Tessarini: Violin & Trio Sonatas

Carlo Tessarini
6 Violin Sonatas Op.14 & 6 Trio Sonatas Op.9
Valerio Losito & Paolo Perrone, violins
Federico Del Sordo, harpsichord
Brilliant Classics, 95861. 2CDs 48’52+57’45

Sei sonate a violino ò flauto traversière e cembalo (Op.14 Venice, 1748)
6 Sonate da camera e chiesa a due violini e basso (Op.9 Paris, 1747)

Carlo Tessarini (1690-1767) is now a little-known Italian composer, but was famed in his day. He was born in Rimini and worked in Venice in the early part of his career, including such positions as violin master at the Ospedale dei Derelitti and a violinist in St. Mark’s. Some of his music was published without permission in London and Amsterdam, so he started publishing his own editions in 1729. Although later notionally attached to in the chapel of the Holy Sacrament in Urbino for some 30 years, he travelled around many regions of Italy as well as Paris and London before finally moving to Amsterdam for the last nine years of his life. Continue reading

Haydn: London Symphony & Harmoniemesse

Haydn: ‘London’ Symphony 99 & Harmoniemesse
Handel and Haydn Society, Harry Christophers
Coro 6176. 68’24

Haydn’s Symphony No. 99 in E major is one of his twelve ‘London’ symphonies. Although it was composed in Vienna in 1793, its first performance was in London in 1794 at the Hanover Square Rooms during Haydn’s second London visit. It is his first use of clarinets in a symphony. The woodwind plays a key role, as they do in the Harmoniemesse, the Mass in B-flat major. That name, given after Haydn’s death, refers not to any idea of harmony, but to the use of the Harmonie, the German name for a wind band. With similar instrumentation, these two pieces make for an obvious pairing on the recording from the Boston based Handel and Haydn Society. Continue reading

Caccini: Le Nuove Musicale

Caccini: Le Nuove Musicale
Ricercare Antico, Riccardo Pisani
Brilliant Classics, 95794. 66’41

Giulio Caccini (1551-1618) was a Florentine singer, instrumentalist and writer. He was one of the first to establish the stile recitativo that formed the basis of Baroque-era opera. His Le Nuove Musicale (or Musiche) of 1602 explored the use of solo voice and continuo bass in what was to be referred to the following year (in Artusi’s 1603 Seconda Parte dell’Artusi), as the Seconda pratica. Caccini’s introduction to Le Nuove Musicale outlines the move from the Renaissance ideas of polyphony and counterpoint to the monodic style of the Baroque, with examples of the manner of adding ornaments to reflect the emotional expression of the text, in the affetto cantando style. Continue reading

Marianna Martines: Il primo amore

Marianna Martines: Il primo amore
La Floridiana
Nuria Rial, Nicoleta Paraschivescu
Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 88697885792. 64’55

Regular followers will have realised that I am using the lack of live concerts during coronavirus lockdown to catch up on CD reviewing. This one dates back to 2012, the 200th anniversary of Marianna Martines’ death. Quite why it took so long to reach the top of the pile is beyond me, but it is certainly worth reviewing. Marianna Martines (1744-1812) is one of the rare examples of a female musician that held her own amongst her distinguished male musical colleagues in Vienna. This recording, with four of the five pieces being world premiers, is a long-overdue acknowledgement of her position in the musical hierarchy of late 18th century Vienna. Continue reading

Le Clavecin Mythologique

Le Clavecin Mythologique
Anne Marie Dragosits
L’Encelade
ECL1801. 73’00

J-H. d’Anglebert: Les Songes Agréables d’Atys, Passacaille d’Armide, Les Sourdines d’Armide
F. Couperin: Les Satires, Ls Sylvains, Les Ombres Errantes
J.-P. Rameau: L’Entretien des Muses, Les Cyclopes
J.-B. Forqueray: Jupiter
P. Royer: L’Imagination, Allemande, La Sensible, La Marche des Scythes
J. Duphly: Médée, Les Grâces

One of the essential tasks for any musician or music promoter is putting together a programme that will make sense to the listener as well as providing a satisfactory ‘hook’ for the performer to share their musical wares. This recording (released in 2018) by the Vienna-based harpsichordist Anne Marie Dragosits presents us with a Suite mythologique consisting of music by composers covering the whole range of the French Baroque harpsichord school from d’Anglebert to Duphly, all based on the mythological world of antiquity. Continue reading

Pieter Hellendaal: Violin Sonatas

Pieter Hellendaal: Violin Sonatas
Antoinette Lohmann, Furor Musicus
Globe
, GLO 5271. 72’21

In what is billed as a “hand-numbered limited edition” on the paper slip on the off-white card CD case (which, as you can see above, doesn’t show up too well against a white background), violinist Antoinette Lohmann and Furor Musicus offer world premiere recordings of Violin Sonatas by Pieter Hellendaal (1721-1799). He was an Anglo-Dutch composer, organist and violinist, sometimes referred to as  “The Elder”, to differentiate him from his musician son. He was born in Rotterdam and, aged 30, moved to England where he lived for the rest of his 78-year life. Continue reading

Bach: Cantatas and Arias for Bass

Bach: Cantatas and Arias for Bass
Dominik Wörner, Zefiro, Alfredo Bernardini
Arcana A466. 62’17


Cantata: Ich habe genung BWV 82
Aria: Gott ist gerecht from Cantata: Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort BWV 20
Cantata: Der Friede sei mit dir BWV 158
Aria: An irdische Schatze das Herze zu hangen from Cantata: Ach wie fluchtig, ach wie nichtig BWV 26
Cantata: Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen BWV 56
Aria: Warum willst du so zornig sein from Cantata: Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott  BWV 101

One of the problems that Bach encountered onhis arrival in Leipzig was the quality of the available musicians, in comparison to those employed by the Köthen court Kapelle. Bass singers seem to have been a particular problem, perhaps ineveitable in a boys choir, although, as Peter Wollny explains in is excellent notes, most of the musicians that Bach could draw on were only around for relatively short time. Six bass singers are specifically named, one becoming his own son-in-law. Continue reading

Royer: Premiere Livre de Pièces de Clavecin

Joseph-Nicolas-Pancrace Royer
Premiere Livre de Pièces de Clavecin
 Mie Hayashi, harpsichord
Resonus Classics RES10236. 65’11

Joseph-Nicolas-Pancrace Royer (1703-1755) was an Italian born keyboard player who moved to Paris in his early 20s where he soon rose up the musical ladder. His first steps were as the maître de musique des enfants de France, directing the musical education of Louis XV’s children. He directed the Concert Spirituel along with Mondonville and worked at the Paris Opéra, where his best known opera was the ballet héroïquZaïde, reine de Grenade. In 1753 he became director of the chambre du roi and the orchestra of the Royal Opera. Continue reading

Antegnati: 12 Ricercari

Antegnati: 12 Ricercari
Federico del Sordo, organ, harpsichord and clavichord
Brilliant Classics, 95628. 58’08

Cover Antegnati: 12 Ricercari

Costanzo Antegnati (1549-1624) is the best-known of a family of distinguished organ builders in Northern Italy that lasted from the early 15th to the late 17th-century. He worked with his father on the 1582 organ in San Giuseppe, Brescia, at one time, one of the most famous in the world. Costanzo was organist at the Brescia cathedral from 1584 to 1619. The most famous of his few surviving organs (from 1588) is in the church of St. Nicholas in Almenno San Salvatore, Bergamo. His 1595 treatise L’arte organica was republished in 1608 with these 12 Ricercars added to the technical details of 144 organs built by his family, information on organ tuning and advice on registration. Continue reading

Handel: Concerti grossi

Handel: Concerti grossi Vol 2. Opus 6: 7-12
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, Bernhard Forck
Pentatone PTC 5186 738. 80’29

Although the concept and the inspiration for Handel’s Op.6 Concerti grossi date back to his early years in Italy and Corelli’s concerto da chiesa and concerto da camera, they were put together and published much later in his career. Ten of the 12 concertos were composed for performance during oratorios and odes during the 1739–1740 season. These included the two that were performed on St Cecilia’s Day, during Alexander’s Feast and the Ode for St Cecilia’s Day. Others followed in December and February 14 including two during L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato with two more in March and April in revivals of Saul, Israel in Egypt and L’Allegro. Concertos 9 and 11 borrowed from some of Handel’s earlier organ concertos (No.9 borrowing from the Cuckoo and the Nightingale organ concerto) that had fulfilled the same function as interval entertainment or musical add ons to oratorio performances. Continue reading

Guillemain: Flute Quartets Op.12

Louis-Gabriel Guillemain: Flute Quartets Op.12 (1743)
Fantasticus, Wilbert Hazelezet
Resonus Classics,  RES10222. 2CDs, 44’13+44’44

Louis-Gabriel Guillemain (1705-1770) was a French composer and violinist. He started his violin studies in Paris and later studied in Italy. By 1729, Guillemain was working in Lyons and was soon appointed the first violinist of the Acadèmie de Musique. His Premier livre de sonates was published in 1734. Guillemain moved back to Paris becoming a musicien ordinaire to Louis XV and before long became one of the court’s highest-paid musicians. The Six sonates en quatuors ou conversations galantes for flute, violin, bass viol and continuo recorded here was published in 1743, when he was at the height of his career. Continue reading

Michelangelo’s Madrigal

Michelangelo’s Madrigal
Kate Macoboy, soprano, Robert Meunier, lute
Et’cetera KTC 1623. XXX

The ‘Michelangelo’s Madrigal’ of the title is Bartolomeo Tromboncino’s Come harò donque ardire, which sets a poem by the artist.  Between 1502 and 1521 Tromboncino was Lucrezia Borgia’s singer and lutenist. He wrote music for her 1502 wedding to Alfonso d’Este, the Duke of Ferrara, and for the famous Intermedi at the arts-loving Ferrara court. This delightful CD, released in October 2018, explores the musical world of early 16th-century Italy by Italian composers, rather than the more famous Northern European composers working in Italy at the time. Continue reading

To Dowland or not to Dowland

To Dowland or not to Dowland
Mike Fentross, lute
Zefir  ZEF9658. 62’52

The rather curious title, which seems to turn ‘Dowland’ into a verb, could perhaps have been ‘Dowland or not Dowland’, as the programme is made up of anonymous lute pieces from various manuscripts that, it is argued, are actually by Dowland. This assumption is based on research by archivist Andre Nieuwlaat who, working with lutenist Mike Fentross, made a selection of 15 pieces from the many possible examples by using “… musical intuition, by the essence of the pieces, and by constantly asking the question: do I recognise Dowland’s hand in this? The overall quality of the pieces to choose from was very impressive, and the answer to this question was: ‘ Yes, I recognise Dowland in these works, without a shadow of a doubt’. Dowland’s musical signature is unmistakable”. Continue reading

Messe du Roi Soleil

Messe du Roi Soleil
Lully – Couperin – Delalande
Chœur et Ensemble Marguerite Louise, Gaetan Jarry, organ
Château de Versailles Spectacles, CVS008. 53’13

The Château de Versailles Spectacles label continues with its series of recordings based on the music that might have been heard in the Royal Chapel. These recordings are presumably aimed principally at the tourists that, in more normal circumstances, flock to the Palace and its gift shops. On this occasion, there has to be a health warning to more serious CD buyers, not least because the premise for this recording is not really what it says on the tin. One thing this isn’t is a Mass for the Sun King, or indeed, any sort of Mass. Continue reading

Basso Ostinato

Basso Ostinato
Passacaglias & Chaconnes
Pieter-Jan Belder, harpsichord
Brilliant Classics,  95656. 77’58

Basso Ostinato - Pieter-Jan Belder

This is a collection of pieces recorded on the margins of other recording sessions from 2012 to 2017. Three harpsichord are used, all modern, after Giusti, Blanchet and Ruckers. All the pieces use an ostinato, or ground, bass. The Passacaglia comes from the Spanish phrase for walking down the street: passer la called. The Chaconne (or Ciaccona) originated in the New World, and was described by Alex Ross as having been a “sexily swirling dance”. Other forms are the English term Ground, used by Tomkins and Purcell, the Passamezzo, used in Picchi’s Pass’e Mezzo, an Italian folk dance based on two different chordal progressions. Continue reading

Scarlatti: Mandolin Sonatas

Domenico Scarlatti: Mandolin Sonatas
Pizzicar Galante
Arcana A115. 60’12

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Although Domenico Scarlatti didn’t actually write any mandolin sonatas, that hasn’t stopped Pizzicar Galante followed an earlier practice of transcribing his harpsichord sonatas for mandolin. Their inspiration was the discovery, in the 1980s, of a late 18th-century manuscript in the Arsenal Library in Paris of the first movement of Scarlatti’s Sonata in D, K89, with the indication Sonatina per mandolino e cimbalo. Continue reading

Opus 1: Dandrieu Corelli

Opus 1: Dandrieu Corelli
Le Consort
Alpha Classics, Alpha 542. 61’45

Jean-François Dandrieu (c1682 – 1739) was a Parisian organist and composer. Aged just five, he played the harpsichord in front of Louis XIV. In 1700, aged 18, he started playing the organ at the Saint-Merri church in Paris, became its titular organist five years later. He is probably best known today for his volume of lively organ Noëls, published posthumously. In 1718 he published his Principes de l’accompagnement, an academic treatise which remains an important source of information on accompaniment practice. Continue reading

Music for the Mayflower

They that in ships unto the sea down go
Music for the Mayflower
Passamezzo
Resonus  RES10263. 61’23

It is 400 years since the Mayflower set sail for the New World. It had been commissioned by English Puritans, along with another ship, the Speedwell, bringing Puritans that had earlier moved to Leiden to escape religious persecution in England. The complicated initial stages of the journey started in July 1620 from the River Thames just east of the City of London. The Mayflower waited to join the Speedwell in Southampton Water and both ships set sail for America in early August, calling into Dartmouth for repairs. They reached well beyond the Scilly Isles but again had to return to Plymouth for further repairs. The Speedwell gave up, and some of their passengers joined Mayflower which finally set off alone. Continue reading

Kate Lindsey: Ariana

Kate Lindsey: Arianna
Arcangelo, Jonathan Cohen
Outthere/Alpha Classics Alpha 576. 72/13

Cover Alpha 576

A Scarlatti: L’Arianna (Ebra d’amor fuggia)
Handel: Ah! Crudel, nel pianto mio
Haydn: Arianna a Naxos

Arianna is a programme from the American mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey, focussed on contrasting cantatas by three composers on the myth of Ariadne (aka Arianna). She was the daughter of King Minos of Crete and granddaughter of the Sungod Helios. She stars in the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, saving Theseus from the maze, falling in love with him, and then being cast off onto the Island of Naxos. Continue reading

Elizabeth Kenny: Ars longa

Ars longa
Old and new music for theorbo
Elizabeth Kenny
Outhere/Linn  CKD603. 75’34

Cover

This recording from Elizabeth Kenny focuses on the early development of the chitarrone/theorbo towards the end of the 16th century, its 18th-century peak of sophistication, and its reinvention for modern composers in the 21st-century.  The music contrasts the early pioneers of Piccinini and Kapsberger, the later stylistic development of Robert de Visée 21st-century pieces by Sir James MacMillan, Benjamin Oliver and Nico Muhly. The programme note includes one of the best descriptions of the chitarrone/theorbo that I have read. Continue reading

Telemann: Melodius Canons & Fantasias

Telemann: Melodius Canons & Fantasias
Elysium Ensemble
Resonus Classics RES10207. 59’13

The Elysium Ensemble are the Australian duo Lucinda Moon, baroque violin, and Greg Dikmans, baroque flute. This recording is part of a historical performance research project aiming to identify neglected or newly discovered chamber music from the Baroque and early-Classical periods, in this case looking at Sonatas from Telemann’s Melodious Canons, composed in Paris. together with three of his solo fantasias dating from his 1728 and 1735 publications in Hamburg. Continue reading

Solarium

Maxime Denuc: Solarium
Cindy Castillo, organ
VLEKD31   94’36

Solarium is a piece for organ, first performed by Cindy Castello in l’église du Gesu, Toulouse during the 2019 Électro Alternativ festival. It is an hour-and-a-half organ piece intended for “… that period of slack that follows the frenzy of a techno-fuelled night” and took place at 10am on a Sunday morning as an “after-party”. I am not sure that many organists get up to frenzied techno-fuelled nights, but there is much here for organists to appreciate, not least the extraordinary sounds that a traditional pipe organ can produce, as well as anybody interested in the techno world of ambient minimalist music. Continue reading

Handel in Ireland Vol.1

Handel in Ireland Vol.1
Bridget Cunningham (harpsichord)
Signum Classics SIGCD478. 72’52

This is a rather delayed review of a CD released in 2017. It is part of an ambitious series of Handel recordings from Bridget Cunningham and her London Early Opera, including Handel in Italy and Handel at Vauxhall, but this one is for solo harpsichord. This recording explores “some of the myths and mysteries surrounding Handel’s visit from London to Dublin in 1741 and reflects on the influences that Handel experienced from being in Dublin and also the inspiration he gave to others through his music and skills of improvisation at the keyboard”. Continue reading

Leuven Chansonnier

Leuven Chansonnier Vol. 1
Sollazzo Ensemble, Anna Danilevskaia
Passacaille PAS1054. 62’02

The Leuven Chansonnier was discovered in 2015 when an art historian approached the Alamire Foundation with a tiny (120x85mm) music book. It turned out to be a previously unknown 15th-century book of chansons. It has been dated to around 1475, and probably originated in the Loire Valley. It was purchased by the King Baudouin Foundation and loaned to the Alamire Foundation in Leuven. As there is no indication of original ownership or provenance, it has been called the Leuven Chansonnier. It contains fifty compositions, a Latin Ave Regina by Walter Frye and 59 French chansons, many of which were recognised as being by leading 15th-century Franco-Flemish composers such as Johannes Ockeghem. There are twelve previously unknown works, eight of which are included on this CD. Continue reading

Von Westhoff: Suites for Solo Violin

Johann Paul von Westhoff: Suites for Solo Violin
Plamena Nikitassova
Outhere: Ricercar RIC 412. 56’59

Johann Paul von Westhoff (1656-1705) was one of the leading members of the flourishing school of Dresden-based violinists during the latter decades of the 17th-century. He was born in Dresden. His father was a lutenist and trombone player from Lübeck, who had briefly been a captain of horse in the Swedish army. Apart from influence from his father, the young Westhoff also learnt while serving in the Dresden Hofkapelle. He was one of the first to compose music for unaccompanied violin, a genre that culminated with Bach. This excellent recording by Plamena Nikitassova reveals the enormous talents of this adventurous composer. Continue reading

James MacMillan: Symphony No.5

James MacMillan
Symphony No. 5 Le grand Inconnu & The Sun Danced
The Sixteen, Genesis Sixteen + Alumni, Britten Sinfonia
Mary Bevan, Harry Christophers
Coro COR16179.78’54

You wouldn’t normally associate The Sixteen with a recording of a Symphony. But with their continuing involvement with the music of Sir James MacMillan, which included giving the premiere of his Stabat Mater in 2016, it was perhaps inevitable that, with his thoughts of making his next symphony a chorale piece, a commission was put together for a choral symphony, sponsored by the Genesis Foundation. This is the premiere recording, made live at a concert in The Barbican, London, on 14 October. Continue reading

Alessandro Grandi: Celesti Fiori

Alessandro Grandi: Celesti Fiori – Motetti
Accademia d’Arcadia, UtFaSol Ensemble, Alessandra Rossi Lürig
Outhere: Arcana A 464. 62’39

Alessandro Grandi (1590-1630) was Monteverdi’s deputy in Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice and was prominent in the development of Venetian style of the early seventeenth century. He was considered by his contemporaries to be supremely talented, an equal to Monteverdi, but he hasn’t survived the transfer to posterity very well and is little known today. This CD of motets published between 1610 and 1630 is the first complete recording dedicated to Grandi. The title Celesti fiori (Celestial Flowers), comes from his Libro Quinto de suoi Concerti, published in Venice in 1619. Continue reading

Les Caractères d’Ulusse

Les Caractères d’Ulusse
Rebel & Boismortier: Suites pour deux clavecins

Clément Geoffroy, Loris Barrucand, harpsichords
Château de Versailles Spectacles CVS021. 74’03

Rebel, J-F: Suite d’Ulysse; Les Caractères de la Danse; Les Élémens;
Les Plaisirs Champêtres 
Boismortier: Premier ballet de Village; Suite de Daphnis et Chloé

Using two of the historic instruments from the collection at the Château de Versailles, one by Ruckers the other by Blanchet , harpsichordists Loris Barrucand and Clément Geoffroy present arrangements of music by Jean-Féry Rebel, (1661-1747) and Joseph Bodin de Boismortier (1691-1755). The impetus for this venture came from a commission in 2016, the 350th anniversary of Rebel’s birth, for a piece for two harpsichords and dancers combined with Rebel’s own comment that he wanted his 1715 orchestral piece Les Caractères de la Danse (an uninterrupted succession of fourteen dances completed in around eight minutes) to be played “like a piece on the harpsichord”. Continue reading

Stefano Bernardi: Lux Aeterna; Ein Salzburger Requiem

Stefano Bernardi
Lux Aeterna; Ein Salzburger Requiem
Voces Suaves; Concerto Scirocco
Outhere: Arcana ACAA470. 68’15

Stefano Bernardi (1577-1637) was born in Verona. He was an active member of the Accademia Filarmonica and became their Maestro della musica in 1606. He was appointed as Maestro di cappella at Verona Cathedral in 1611. In 1622 he became Court Kapellmeister to the Bishop of Breslau and Brixen, Archduke Carl Joseph. Following the Archduke’s death in 1624, Bernardi took up a similar post in Salzburg with the Prince-Bishop Paris von Lodron. Continue reading

Diego Ortiz: Trattado de Glosas

Diego Ortiz: Trattado de Glosas
Les Basses Réunies
Bruno Cocset, Guido Balestracci
Outhere: Alpha 563. 59’31

We know little about the life of Diego Ortiz (c1510-c1576). He is believed to have been born in Toledo, and worked in Naples for Ferdinand Álvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alba when he was the Spanish Viceroy there. He eventually became Maestro di Cappella of the Neapolitan Chapel Royal. He seems to have spent his final years in Rome. He published his influential Trattado de glossas sobre clausulas y otros generos de puntos en la musica de violones nuevamente puestos en luz in 1553, while in Naples. Continue reading