Mayfair Organ Concerts The Grosvenor Chapel South Audley Street, Mayfair, London W1K 2PA Tuesday 13 April 2020, 1:10
Andrew Benson-Wilson plays music by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck(1562-1621)
On the 400th anniversary of the death of the famed ‘Orpheus of Amsterdam’, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621), Andrew Benson-Wilson gives an organ recital of pieces reflecting the different styles and genres of Sweelinck’s music. He was the most influential teacher of his day, attracting many students from German-speaking areas who went on to create the Hamburg school of organ composition which culminated in Buxtehude and Bach.
Lunchtime Live David Allinson Friday 1pmlunchtime informal online talks
Amongst the many online activities of musicians during Covid 19 is a fascinating series of informal 45-minute Friday lunchtime chats from David Allinson, a distinguished early music conductor, singer and lecturer based in Canterbury, UK. With all his conducting engagements cancelled for the past year, he has taken to the internet in a most imaginative and engaging way. As well as running a number of online workshops for local Early Music Fora, since October 2020 he has been giving regular Friday lunchtime chats via his Facebook page and accessible on his website, where past sessions remain available.
La Riturnella Cavalli, Monteverdi & Barbara Strozzi Musica Antica Rotherhithe, Oliver Doyle Live-streamed from the Sands Films Music Room, 21 February 2020 Available on-line
In their online performance, La Riturnella, Musica Antica Rotherhithe concentrate on three generations of Italian Baroque composers – Claudio Monteverdi, Francesco Cavalli, and Barbara Strozzi. All three are related through teacher-pupil relationships, with Monteverdi teaching Cavalli who, in turn, taught Strozzi. The imaginative programme also featured a piece by Girolamo Kapsberger and some folk songs of the period from Calabria in the far south of Italy, arranged by soprano Camilla Seale. The socially distanced performance was broadcast live from the attractive little Sands Films Music Room, located in a former granary in Rotherhithe, on the south bank of the Thames, just east of the City of London.
Cavalieri Imperiali Zenobi & Sansoni, the great cornetto masters InALTO, Lambert Colson Ricercar RIC419. 64’36
The cornett was the principal solo instrument in the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras, before losing that role to the violin. Its sound closely resembles that of the human voice, to the extent that, in a review, I once referred to a talented young soprano as being “a cornett on legs”. This excellent instrumental recording from InALTO pays tribute to two notable cornett players from the decades on either side of 1600, both of whom were knighted by an emperor.
Suonare è danzare Academy of Ancient Music, Laurence Cummings, Bojan Čičić Live from West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge. 12 February 2020
MuffatArmonico Tributo Sonata in G BachSonata in E minor for violin and keyboard, BWV 1023 TelemannConcerto polonoise in B flat major Handel Sonata in G Op.5, No.4
It is often said by music commentators that practically all Baroque music is fundamentally based on dance. Dance was certainly a key part of 18th century life, a fundamental part of the education system, and underpinned many aspets pf social and political discourse. This is the first of a three-concert mini-festival from AAM Live 2021, live-streamed (via ticket purchase) from their Cambridge home in the West Road Concert Hall. The Acadamy of Ancient Music under Laurence Cummings (pictured), their Music Director designate, directing from the harpishcord, joined with the AAM leader, violinist Bojan Čičić for a programme of music in celebration of dance.
Embers of Romanticism Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Geoffrey Paterson OAE Player, Available online from 10 February 2020
Webern (1883-1945): Passacaglia Wagner (1813-1883): Prelude & Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde Pfitzner (1869-1949): Act 2 Vorspiel from Palestrina Richard Strauss (1864-1949): ‘Interlude’ from Salome Wagner: Act 3 Vorspiel from Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
In this 45-minute long on-line concert (originally intended as a cancelled live concert in March 2020) the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment has come up with a striking departure from their usual repertoire. Although they have ventured well away from the historical Age of Enlightenment before, this concert, curated and arranged by OAE principal horn, Roger Montgomery, is a particularly inventive bit of programme planning. Playing instruments from the late Romantic era, they present a programme of music by Richard Wagner, Richard Strauss, Anton Webern and Hans Pfitzner composed during the dying embers of the Romantic era. Through direct references and thematic inferences, the music is based on Thomas Mann’s 1947 novel Doctor Faustus. In the novel (which has the sub-title of The Life of the German Composer Adrian Leverkuhn, Told by a Friend), the composer enters into a pact with the devil in which he trades his soul for artistic and musical genius. The concert is available, for a moderate fee, via the OAE Player.
Al Capriccio Concertos and symphonies by Johann Zach (1713–1773) Barocksolisten München, Dorothea Seel, Anne Marie Dragosits Musikmuseum MMCD 13035. 66’47
Barocksolisten München, directed by flautist Dorothea Seel, explore the music of the idiosyncratic composer Johann (Jan) Zach. He was born into a family of wheelwrights near the pilgrimage town of Brandýs nad Labem in central Bohemia, site of the murder of Duke Wenceslas. In 1724 he moved to Prague where he worked as a violinist and studied organ. His short-lived career as organist seems to have culminated in an unsuccessful application in 1737 for the position of organist at St. Vitus Cathedral. He reappears in early 1745 in Augsburg just before his appointment as Kapellmeister at the court of the Prince Elector of Mainz.
Meine Tage sind wie Schatten Alexander Utendal Psalms from Septem Psalmi poenietentiales & Magnificats Profeti della Quinta Musikmuseum 37, CD13036. 56’18
This 2018 recording in the impressive series of recordings from the Tiroler Landesmuseen in Innsbruck, (under the banner of musikmuseum), focusses on the now little-known composer Alexander Utendal (c1530-1581). His link with the Tyrol started from his early days in Hapsburg Flanders where he was a choirboy at the court of Mary of Hungary, Regent of the Netherlands. He then sang alto in the Court chapel of Archduke Ferdinand II of Tyrol, moving to Innsbruck in 1564 where he suceeded Jacob Regnart as Vice Kapellmeister. In his time, he had a strong reputation. His collection of four-part penitential psalms, printed in 1570, have been compared to those of Orlando di Lasso (published some years later). Utendal worked for linked courts, and would have known each other well.
Mattheson: The Melodious Talking Fingers Colin Booth, harpsichord Soundboard SBCD 220. 69’47
Many music lovers will have heard the name of Johann Mattheson (1681-1764), and may perhaps have heard of his 1739 Der vollkommene Capellmeister, his rather shaky polemic on music theory, but few will know much of his music. An enigmatic figure in 17th century Hamburg, he is perhaps best known today for nearly killing Handel during a fight in the Hamburg opera, Handel apparently surviving by a well-placed button that deflected Mattheson’s sword. His early career as an organist (at the long-since demolished Mariendom), singer and opera composer was combined with that of an Anglophile diplomat, serving as secretary to the English Envoy Extraordinary to the Hanseatic city-states. He is sometimes referred to as the first music critic. This recording is of his complete Die Wolklingende Fingeraprache (translated on the recording as The Melodious Talking Fingers), first published in 1735.
Apparatus musico-organisticus Baroque organ works from Tyrolean sources Peter Waldner Musikmuseum 51 MMCD 13050. 65’29
In this recording, the prolific Innsbruck-based organist Peter Waldnerplays two historic organs in the western part of the Italian South Tirol close to, and just over, the border with Switzerland. The choice of organs, and to an extent the music, is focussed on that region, not least because the nearby Benedictine Abbey of Marienberg contains the Tyrol’s only known copy of Georg Muffat’s 1690/1721 Apparatus musico-organisticus which forms the bulk of the CD.
Baroque at the EdgeFestival Recorded at LSO St Luke’s, London Broadcast online between7-10 January 2021, available to 31 March 2021
In pre-coronavirus days, the musically barren early days of January have been enlivened by the imaginative Baroque at the Edge Festival, usually spanning a weekend in venues around their home base of LSO at St Luke’s in London. Previous festivals are reviewed here and here. Run by Artistic Director Lindsay Kemp and Festival Manager Lucy Bending (the team behind the London Festival of Baroque Music and its predecessor, the Lufthansa Festival), the festival has secured a place in the London concert scene with their refreshing approach to Baroque music, as exemplified by such banners as “No rules, no boundaries – just Baroque music set loose” and “Imagine if Vivaldi was a folk-fiddler, Purcell a protest-singer, or Bach a techno-geek”. The more succinct and apt “No rules, no walls” for this year’s Covid-constrained festival reflected the on-line nature of the events.
Tallis Kerry McCarthy Oxford University PressUSA:Master Musicians series Hardback, 288 pages, 235x156x31mm, ISBN13: 9780190635213
Thomas Tallis (1505-1585) survived the complex Tudor period in England, adapting to the various musical and liturgical demands of the period’s religious toing and froing. For one so influential on English music, it is unfortunate that very little is known about his life, something that is immediately apparent from reading Kerry McCarthy’s book. Based on surviving documents from his life, she is obliged to weave a web of historical and observational information around the bare facts of Tallis’s life.
Stile Nuovo Weihnachtsmusik Von Christoph Sätzl& Marienvesper im Dom zu Brixen 1641 Odhecaton, La Venexiana, Prishna Musikmuseum 41, CD13040. 2CDs 59’12+57’57
I have been sent several CDs published by the Music Museum of the Tiroler Landesmuseen in Innsbruck. One of which is this set of two CDs, the first of which is of early Baroque Christmas motets from Tyrol and Italy (recorded in 2016) with a second CD (recorded, live, in 2000) of Marienvespers music from Brixen Cathedral as might have been heard around 1641. The two CDs do not seem to be related, although it is not clear if this is a re-release of earlier published recordings.
Beethoven Ninth Symphony Beethoven 250: online festival of Beethoven Symphonies and Chamber Music The Hanover Band, Sir Mark Elder Recorded at London’s Mansion House First broadcast 16 December 2020
The conclusion of The Hanover Band’s Beethoven 250 project (previously reviewed here) came with the release of the Ninth Symphony on 16 December (the assumed date of Beethoven’s birth). Unlike the previous eight symphonies, which were recorded in Stationers’ Hall, this recording with its much larger orchestra took place in the curiously named Egyptian Hall of London’s Mansion House, the official residence of the Lord Mayor of London. All nine symphonies were recorded one after the other during August, with the Hanover Band’s associate director Benjamin Bayl as conductor for the previous 8 symphonies. He was prevented by Covid-19 regulations from travelling to the recording sessions for the Ninth Symphony, Sir Mark Elder stepped in to conduct. The recordings from the whole project can be accessed here, and Beethoven’s Ninth on the Hanover Band website here or on their YouTube channel, with programme notes, here.
Tunder Appreciated Musica Poetica, Oliver John Ruthven Veterum Musica, VM020. 44’18
This rather short recording stems from a series of lunchtime concerts that Musica Poetica gave during the 2017 Tunder anniversary year, one of which is reviewed here. The North German organist/composer Franz Tunder (1614-1667) is probably best known today for being Buxtehude’s predecessor as organist at the Lübeck Marienkirche, where he started the famous Abendmusiken series of concerts. As was the tradition in many organist posts, Buxtehude married Tunder’s daughter Anna Margarethe in 1668 when he took up the post. Around 17 Tunder choral pieces in German and Latin survive, along with some dramatic pieces for organ.
Handel: Messiah Orchetstra & Choir of the Age of Enlightenment, Christian Curnyn recorded in St Paul’s, Knightsbridge, released 27 December 2020
This recording of Messiah was made over a couple of days in the lead up to Christmas under London’s just-applied Tier 4 Covid-19 regulations. It was rehearsed and recorded in the sumptuous mid-to-late 19th century Anglo-Catholic church of St Paul’s, Knightsbridge. One of the first of the Oxford Movement churches, it’s 1843 galleried preaching-box design gained some Victorian bling with the addition of Bodley’s 1892 chancel with its rood screen and reredos which, along with the 1870/1920 wall painting and panels, form the visual background to the performance.
Rydale Festival: 12 Days of Christmas Echo Vocal Ensemble, The Gesualdo Six and The Swan Consort Sarah Latto, Owain Park, Anita Datta Filmed in Castle Howard, North Yorkshire Released daily from 25th December to 6th January
A bit of Christmas enterprise comes from three UK choral ensembles, Echo Vocal Ensemble, The Gesualdo Six and The Swan Consort, in association with the Rydale Festival and Tidze. Under the banner of Give the gift of a Choral Christmas, they present a series of 12 short concerts, filmed in Castle Howard in North Yorkshire. Links to the videos are emailed every day between 25th December and 6th January, with catch up available until the end of January 2021. There are options for simple digital delivery (for £12) or two types of gift boxes (£24/34) with additional goodies. They can be used as a gift to friends, or to yourself.
Handel: Messiah Academy of Ancient Music, Richard Egarr Live-stream from The Barbican, 19 December 2020
In what is becoming the ‘new normal’, the annual Academy of Ancient Music’s London performance of Handel’s Messiah was live-streamed (from behind a paywall) from London’s Barbican Hall. The socially-distanced, modest-sized period instrument orchestra (5,4,2,2,1 strings) and 17-strong choir filled the entire width of the stage with no apparent loss of acoustic focus in the recorded sound – the acoustics were excellent. Like any well-designed concert hall, the Barbican Hall retains the same acoustics whether or not there is an audience presence, the empty seats designed to have the same acoustic properties when empty as when sat upon. As far as I can tell, the concert is no longer available to watch, although this website might lead you to a possible viewing. The programme notes can be accessed here.
Burghclere Baroque The Spirit of Christmas Philippa Hyde, Canzona, Theresa Caudle Recorded at the Church of the Ascension, Burghclere, 21 December 2020
Torelli: Concerto In forma di pastorale per il Santissimo Natale Bach: Wie lieblich klingt es in den Ohren Arcangelo Corelli: Concerto Fatto per la notte di natale Handel Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; I know that my Redeemer liveth Alessandro Scarlatti: Cantata pastorale per la nascità di Nostro Signor
Among the plethora of live-streams and videod concerts Burghclere Baroque, managed to put on a real concert with a real (but limited) audience in the Church of the Ascension in the village of Burghclere, on the Tier 2 side of North Hampshire close to the border of what is now Tier 4 Berkshire. It was a well-timed event – one day later, and a concert audience may well have been impossible, although a recording could have gone ahead. The concert is now available to watch on YouTube free of charge, although donations are obviously not only welcome but, in these straightened times for musicians, are pretty well essential. Donations will be divided equally between topping up the fees of the performers and the film and sound crew, to support future concerts in Burghclere, and to the Help Musicians UK Coronavirus Financial Hardship Fund.
Beethoven 250 An online festival of Beethoven Symphonies and Chamber Music The Hanover Band, Consone Quartet, Benjamin Bayl Recorded at the Stationers’ Hall in The City of London & Arundel Town Hall, West Sussex Wednesday broadcasts, September to December 2020
One of the most enterprising and musically successful of this year’s online Covid concert series is the Beethoven 250 programme of concerts from The Hanover Band (who are also celebrated their own 40th anniversary this year) and the Consone Quartet, all playing appropriate period instruments. The series started with four concerts of chamber music, followed by the complete symphonies. The symphonies were recorded in London’s musically significent 1673 Stationers’ Hall while the chamber concerts were recorded in the Town Hall in Arundal, The Hanover Band’s home town. The venues were chosen to be similar to the size and acoustic of the venues where the original performances might have been first experienced. The homepage for the Beethoven 250 festival is here, with links to the brochure for the festival and all the broadcasts. The concerts can also be viewed on The Hanover Band’s homepage or their YouTube channel. Although the concerts can, commendably, all be viewed for free, donations are obviously not only welcome but, in these straightened times for musicians, are pretty well essential.
Irlandiani An exploration of musical life in 18th Century Ireland Penny Fiddle Records. PFR2005CD. 57’33
The musical life of 18th century Dublin is often overlooked in recordings, concerts and in many a musical history. With that in mind, the debut album Irlandiani from the Irish baroque cellist Carina Drury is particularly welcome. Taking its title from the name given to early Italian settlers in Ireland, the recording pictures the musical life of early 18th Century Dublin. It explores the influence of Irish folk music on Italian baroque composers living in Ireland, and the influence of the Italian baroque style on Irish composers. With Irish flute player Eimear McGeown and a combination of historic and traditional instruments, the album explores Irish music from The Neal Collection, the first printed collection of Irish music, together with cello sonatas by Italian composers who lived in Dublin during the 18th century.
How Lonely Sits the City Dunedin Consort, Nicholas Mulroy Filmed at Greyfriars Kirk 19 November 2020
One of the finest of the many online concerts available during the Covid calamity comes from the Edinburgh based Dunedin Consort. Under the direction of their new Associate Director, the distinguished tenor Nicholas Mulroy, their programme was built around the rarely heard Orlande de Lassus Lamentatione Hieremiae Prophetae (Quinque vocum), the three sections of the Primi Diei acting as a binder amongst music from the 16th, 20th and 21st centuries. Unlike many such performances, the concert is, commendably, free to watch although donations are clearly not only encouraged but in the current climate, absolutely essential for the future of music making. Full details about the performance and programme notes can be found here and donation can be made here.
Orlande de Lassus: Lamentatione Hieremiae Prophetae(Quinque vocum) Cecilia McDowall: I know that my redeemer liveth Lassus: Lamentatione Hieremiae Prophetae Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade: Vigil I Rudolf Mauersberger: Wie liegt die Stadt so wüst Lassus: Lamentatione Hieremiae Prophetae William Byrd: Ne irascaris Domine – Civitas sancti tui James MacMillan: Miserere
London Sound Gallery Fieri Consort, Helen Charlston, The Hermes Experiment, Ensemble Augelletti, Matilda Lloyd,The Gesualdo Six Filmed concerts, released weekly between 25 October to 29 November
Amongst the many online events becoming available during these Covid-constrained times is a weekly Sunday afternoon series of six hour-long concerts under the banner of the London Sound Gallery. Promoted with the help of a crowdfunding campaign by The Gesualdo Six (who, as part of the deal, are collaborating with the other five performers) “to provide a focal point for new programming and collaborative performance during the current crisis for the arts”. The six concerts have an underlying theme of “reconnection, new beginnings and reconciliation” and are being released between 25 October and 29 November. The concerts were filmed in front of a small audience in Mayfair’s Grosvenor Chapel.
25 October. Fieri Consort Another Dawn 1 November. Helen Charlston & Toby Carr Abbandonata 8 November. The Hermes Experiment I am happy living simply 15 November. Ensemble Augelletti New Beginnings 22 November. Matilda Lloyd and Martin Cousin Notes of yearning 29 November. The Gesualdo Six Heavenly Spheres
‘Seeing Double’ Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Jonathan Cohen Kati Debretzeni,Nicola Benedetti, Rudolfo Richter Katharina Spreckelsen,Sarah Humphrys OAE Player. 19 November 2020
Avision Concerto Grosso no.5 in D minor Vivaldi Concerto in D for two violins RV 513 Vivaldi Concerto in D for two violins RV 514 Vivaldi Concerto in A minor for two oboes RV 536 Bach Concerto in D minor for two violins BWV 1043 Purcell Rondeau from Abdelazer
The second of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment’s premieres on their digital platform OAE Player was a concert of Vivaldi and Bach double concertos recorded at the Snape Maltings in front of a socially-distanced audience. Many people will have already heard or seen an expanded version of the programme as one of the live concerts of the much reduced 2020 BBC Proms season. The principal violin soloist for both concerts should have been Alina Ibragimova, but the death of her father (the distinguished double bass player Rinat Ibragimov) the day before the Prom resulted in Nicola Benedetti stepping in for the Proms and this concert, which seems to have been recorded the following day in the far more suitable acousics of the Snape Maltings.
Haydn: Die Schöpfung Il Giardino Armonico, Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks Giovanni Antonini Outhere/Alpha 567. 2CDs. 72’52 +27’26
The Joseph Haydn Foundation’s Haydn 2032 project plans to produce and finance the recording of all 107 of Haydn’s symphonies in the lead-up to the 300th anniversary of Haydn’s birth. These recordings are usually with Il Giardino Armonico and the Basel Chamber Orchestra under Giovanni Antonini, but this recording of The Creation, which sidesteps the symphony series, pairs the period instruments of Il Giardino Armonico with the Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks. Although I have some reservations, it is a powerful and revealing account of Hadyn’s extraordinary work, a homage to the Handel oratorios that he experienced in London.
Apollo e Dafne Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Roderick Williams Rowan Pierce, Katharina Spreckelsen OAE Player. 9 November 2020
Telemann Der am Ölberg zagende Jesus TWV 1: 364 JS Bach Cantata, Ich habe Genug BWV 82 Handel Concerto Grosso Op. 3 No. 2/1 HandelApollo e Dafne HWV 122
The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) has responded to the Covid crisis by opening a new digital platform, OAE Player. For this Premiere Night concert, they were billed as returning to their resident home at the Southbank Centre for the first time since the first lockdown although, as you will read, that turned out to be not quite the reality. Each of the filmed concerts (there are currently twenty available on the OAE Player) are available to watch individually for a great deal less than a concert ticket (and without the costs of travel) or there is an option of accessing all the concerts with an annual pass.
Mozart à Portuguesa Mozart’s Requiem(Eborense version) Americantiga Ensemble, Ricardo Bernardes São Roque, Lisbon. 6 November 2020 & online
Davide Perez (1711-78) Subvenite sancti dei; Trio in G minor José Joaquim dos Santos (1747-1801) Lamentação de Quinta-Feira Santa Frei Joan de Santa Cruz (1542-1591) Noche oscura Mozart Requiem (Eborense version)
An interesting live-streamed concert from Portugal caught my eye and ear, with the help of a friend who managed to get there and back to perform just before the UK lockdown. It included a performance of Mozart’s Requiem in an early 19th-century arrangement by composers of Évora Cathedral, alongside pieces by composers of the Lisbon Court such as David Perez and José Joaquim dos Santos. The manuscript of the arrangement is in the archives in Évora, hence the name of the “Eborense version”. The concert was performed live by the Americantiga Ensemble during the 22nd Music Season in São Roque in the São Roque Church, Lisbon, and is available to view via the link below.
Early Music Young Ensemble Competition MokkaBarock, Ensemble Pro Victoria, Ensemble Hesperi LIFEM: DIGITAL London International Festival of Early Music 8 November 2020
The London International Festival of Early Music series of events continued, under the banner of LIFEM: DIGITAL, with their Early Music Young Ensemble Competition, the final of which usually occurs every two years during their live festival. This year the competition took place online, with the three finalists’ recitals streamed on the festival’s website on Sunday, 8th November. After a preliminary round of the competition based on video entries, the three finalists’ recitals were recorded under ‘live’ conditions. Two of the groups were UK based, the other being from Salzburg.
Fretwork London International Festival of Early Music 5 November 2020
Another festival to turn to an online rather than a live presence is the annual London International Festival of Early Music with a series of nightly concerts under the banner of LIFEM: DIGITAL, recorded in their usual venues in and around Blackheath is south-east London. The first concert was given by the viol consort Fretwork, who celebrated the 30th anniversary in 2016. The concert ended with a world premiere of The Tudor Pull by John Paul Jones who many will know as the most modest member of the legendary multi-instrumentalist of the 1970/802 rock group Led Zeppelin.
Ach Jesus stirbt Andreas Hammerschmidt Vox Luminis, Clematis, Lionel Meunier Outhere/Ricercar, RIC418. 70’27
The ever-excellent Vox Luminis strike again with this magnificent recording of vocal works by the little-known Bohemian organist-composer Andreas Hammerschmidt (1612-1675). As a result of the Thirty Years War, his (Protestant) family moved to the important city of Freiberg in Saxony when he was about 15, where he became organist at the Petrikirche. In 1639 he moved to Zittau where he stayed until his death as organist of the Johanneskirche. Despite the ravages of the war, he became famed as an organist and a composer of music in the concertato tradition of Heinrich Schütz.