Venetian Cello Sonatas

Venetian Cello Sonatas: Under the shade of Vivaldi
Gaetano Nasillo
Outhere/Arcana A465. 77’24

The subtitle of this recording “Under the shade of Vivaldi” explains its remit of exploring the lesser-known composers for the cello in Venice at a time when the music of Vivaldi held sway. The pieces chosen demonstrate two moments of musical transition. The first is the use of the cello as a solo instrument, rather than as a ‘mere’ bass continuo instrument, a development that started in the mid to late 17th-century. The second example of transition is in the structure of the Sonata from the traditional four movements to the more modern three. Perhaps tellingly, the two Sonatas in the later three-movement form (by Vandini and Stratico) are the most technically advanced of the eight Sonatas. Continue reading

Handel Singing Competition 2020

London Handel Festival
Handel Singing Competition: Semi-Final
St George’s, Hanover Square, 6 March 2020

I would normally wait until the final of the annual Handel Singing Competition before mentioning some of those who I heard in the semi-final but, with the Coronavirus cancellation of the entire London Handel Festival, this turns out to be the only review of the festival that I will be writing. The final would have been this evening, 24 March, so it seems an appropriate time to post this review of the semi-final. The reason I try to attend semi-finals of competitions like this is that I frequently hear people who, in my view, should have got through to the final but, for reasons best known to the judges, don’t make it. The London Handel Festival’s annual Handel Singing Competition is no exception to this situation.

Continue reading

A. Scarlatti: Sedecia – Re di Gerusalemme

A. Scarlatti: Sedecia – Re di Gerusalemme
Alessandro Stradella Consort, Estévan Velardi
Brilliant Classics BRI95537. 2CDs 62’24 + 67’40

This is a reissue of a 1999 studio recording by the  Alessandro Stradella Consort of Alessandro Scarlatti’s 1706 oratorio Sedecia: Re di Gerusalemme. It shares many characters with Verdi’s 1841 opera Nabucco, both based on an Old Testament story of military ambition and corrupted power.

Continue reading

Early Music Day (at home): 7:30pm

Early Music Day
Stay at Home Edition

Happy Birthday, J S Bach!

Click the links below to take you to publically available videos of the pieces that we would have performed during the informal 45′ afternoon Bach organ and solo instrument recitals that would have taken place in London’s St Giles-in-the-Fields on Early Music Day at 4, 5 & 6pm. This is the programme for the final 7:30pm concert, given by

Art of Moog & Andrew Benson-Wilson (organ) 

The poster for the series of events can be found here, as amended after the earlier pull out of Art of Moog because of the Coronavirus. Their 7:30pm evening concert with the historic St Giles-in-the-Fields organ is recreated with video links although sadly, none will have the combined Art of Moog and pipe organ. All the organ pieces below would have been combined with the Art of Moog instrumentalists.

An introduction to the Art of Moog
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUJ8XSBHYnE

Art of Moog: Live at Kings Place – Selections
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_B3Y1tXAhw

Art of Fugue Contrapunctus 1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5KjVEYzYAw
Benjamin Alard
l’église d’Arques-la-Bataille

Art of Fugue Contrapunctus 2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0HeE4MF01g&list=PL6cXnOI-FfSgtlLkIE5D1nXf660II0Pdd&index=8&t=0s
Glenn Gould

Adagio from The Easter Oratorio BWV 249
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CklCJk6kNFg
Art of Moog

Prelude in E minor
https://youtu.be/4_5efQbjybk
Art of Moog

Erbarm dich mein, o Herre Gott, BWV 721
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3CNS2iK790
Ton Koopman
1643 Hans Heinrich Bader organ, St. Walburgiskerk, Zutphen

Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPMeBNU9fes
Wolfgang Zerer

Christ lag in Todesbanden
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqwgeKOgezg
Wolfgang Zerer

Adagio from the viola da gamba sonata BWV 1029
https://youtu.be/3eAzorClu78
Art of Moog

Toccata D Moll BWV 565
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xeqQo7bCvE
Jacques van Oortmerssen
1992 Glauco Ghilardi organ: S. Maria Assunta, Smarano

These concerts were to have been given in aid of the
Royal Society of Musicians
.

If you are willing to support this important musical charity, you can donate directly via this link https://www.rsmgb.org/fundraising/.  UK taxpayers can claim GiftAid. Please mention “Early Music Day” in the comments section of your donation.

#earlymusicday

Early Music Day (at home): 6pm

Early Music Day
Stay at Home Edition

Happy Birthday, J S Bach!

Click the links below to take you to publically available videos of the pieces that we would have performed during the informal 45′ afternoon Bach organ and solo instrument recitals that would have taken place in London’s St Giles-in-the-Fields on Early Music Day at 4, 5 & 6pm. This is the programme for the third, 6pm concert, given by

Andrew Benson-Wilson (organ)
playing organ chorales from Bach’s Leipzig manuscript
Poppy Walshaw (cello)

The poster for the series of events can be found here, as amended after the earlier pull out of Art of Moog because of the Coronavirus. Their 7:30pm evening concert with the historic St Giles-in-the-Fields organ will be similarly recreated with similar video links although sadly, none will have the combined Art of Moog and pipe organ.

Allein Gott in Der Hõh sei Ehr BWV 662
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QW2J10wRT2k
Jacques van Oortmerssen

Cello Suite No.3 in C. BWV 1009
Prélude, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Bourrées, Gigue
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFtZ9tQiFxM
Colin Carr

Jesus Christus, unser Heiland BWV 666
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQP-necHTK4
Bine Katrine Bryndorf

Komm, Gott, Schöpfer, Heiliger Geist BWV 667
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdBLy6VePyk
Simon Thomas Jacobs
Richards, Fowkes & Co organ, St George’s Hanover Square

These concerts were to have been given in aid of the
Royal Society of Musicians
.

If you are willing to support this important musical charity, you can donate directly via this link https://www.rsmgb.org/fundraising/.  UK taxpayers can claim GiftAid. Please mention “Early Music Day” in the comments section of your donation.

#earlymusicday

Early Music Day (at home): 5pm

Early Music Day
Stay at Home Edition

Happy Birthday, J S Bach!

Click the links below to take you to publically available videos of the pieces that we would have performed during the informal 45′ afternoon Bach organ and solo instrument recitals that would have taken place in London’s St Giles-in-the-Fields on Early Music Day at 4, 5 & 6pm. This is the programme for the second, 5pm concert, given by

Andrew Benson-Wilson (organ)
playing organ chorales from Bach’s Leipzig manuscript
Annabel Knight (flute)

The poster for the series of events can be found here, as amended after the earlier pull out of Art of Moog because of the Coronavirus. Their 7:30pm evening concert with the historic St Giles-in-the-Fields organ will be similarly recreated with similar video links although sadly, none will have combined Art of Moog and pipe organ.

Von Gott will ich nicht lassen BWV 658
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnsMlPv3MZk
Sietze de Vries

Nun komm’ der Heiden Heiland BWV659
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gQ-7caubYk
John Scott
Taylor & Boody organ in the Gallery of Saint Thomas Church, New York

Partita for solo flute BWV 1013
Allemande, Corrente, Sarabande, Bourrée angloise
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onB39cumbF4
Marten Root

Jesus Christus, unser Heiland BWV 665
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFd8VBV5eCg
Bine Katrine Bryndorf

These concerts were to have been given in aid of the
Royal Society of Musicians
.

If you are willing to support this important musical charity, you can donate directly via this link https://www.rsmgb.org/fundraising/.  UK taxpayers can claim GiftAid. Please mention “Early Music Day” in the comments section of your donation.

#earlymusicday

Early Music Day (at home): 4pm

Early Music Day
Stay at Home Edition

Happy Birthday, J S Bach!

Click the links below to take you to publically available videos of the pieces that we would have performed during the informal 45′ afternoon Bach organ and solo instrument recitals that would have taken place in London’s St Giles-in-the-Fields on Early Music Day at 4, 5 & 6pm. This is the programme for the first, 4pm concert, given by

Andrew Benson-Wilson (organ)
playing organ chorales from Bach’s Leipzig manuscript
Poppy Walshaw (cello)

The poster for the series of events can be found here, as amended after the earlier pull out of Art of Moog because of the Coronavirus. Their 7:30pm evening concert with the historic St Giles-in-the-Fields organ will be similarly recreated with similar video links although sadly, none will have the combined Art of Moog and pipe organ.

Fantasia supra Komm, Heiliger Heist BWV 651
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vohG88Mj2f4
William Porter
North German style organ in Smarano, Italy

Cello Suite No. 2 in D minor BWV 1008
Prélude, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Menuetts, Gigue
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mg3nVSe–f4
Eva Lymenstull

O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig BWV 656
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YawozgUoYEI
Wolfgang Zerer
St Catherine’s Church, Hamburg

These concerts were to have been given in aid of the
Royal Society of Musicians
.

If you are willing to support this important musical charity, you can donate directly via this link https://www.rsmgb.org/fundraising/.  UK taxpayers can claim GiftAid. Please mention “Early Music Day” in the comments section of your donation.

#earlymusicday

 

Early Music Day (at home)

Early Music Day
Stay at Home Edition

Happy Birthday, J S Bach!


Early Music Day events around Europe are cancelled because of Coronavirus, including my own concerts in St Giles-in-the-Fields.

A live broadcast from behind closed doors is not possible, so at the start time of the four concerts I will post a programme of publically available videos of the pieces that we would have performed.

The first three will reflect the informal afternoon Bach organ and solo instrument recitals which would have taken place at 4pm, 5pm & 6pm, followed by a selection of the pieces that Art of Moog and I might have played in the 7:30pm evening concert although sadly, none will have the combined Art of Moog and St Giles-in-the-Fields pipe organ.

These concerts were to have been given in aid of the
Royal Society of Musicians
.

If you are willing to support this important musical charity, you can donate directly via this link https://www.rsmgb.org/fundraising/.  UK taxpayers can claim GiftAid. Please mention “Early Music Day” in the comments section of your donation.

#earlymusicday
@earlymusicday

 

Beethoven: 1808 Reconstructed

Beethoven: 1808 Reconstructed
Philharmonia Orchestra
Philharmonia Voices, Rodolfus Choir
Esa-Pekka Salonen, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Stephen Fry
Royal Festival Hall, 15 March 2020

Symphony 6 (Pastoral); Ah! perfido, Op.65; Gloria from Mass in C; Piano Concerto 4; Symphony 5; Sanctus & Benedictus from Mass in C; Fantasia in G minor for piano, Op.77; ‘Choral Fantasy’ in C minor for piano, chorus & orchestra, Op.80

In the first of his several pop-up moments, the genial compere Stephen Fry announced that this was probably “the last mass gathering there will be at for some time”. The empty seats in what was an almost sold-out concert reflected the sorry story, as did the Government announcements the following day. But this day was Beethoven’s, with the Philharmonia Orchestra‘s recreation of Beethoven’s famous 1808 ‘Akademie’ concert. Given just a few days before Christmas at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna, the original concert consisted entirely of the works of the one composer. It included the first performances of several major works, including the 5th & 6thSymphonies, the 4th Piano Concerto and the hastily put-together Choral Fantasy. Continue reading

Mozart in Italy Festival

Mozart in Italy Festival
The Mozartists, Ian Page
Cadogan Hall, 6-8 March 2020

The Mozartists (and their companions, Classical Opera) continue with their ambitious MOZART 250 project with a weekend exploration of music written by Mozart and others in the year 1770 when he was 14 years old. The project started in 2015 on the anniversary of Mozart’s childhood visit to London and continues with annual explorations of the music that Mozart wrote exactly 250 years earlier, alongside music that Mozart might have heard during the same year. Following their 2015 ‘Mozart in London’ weekend, this weekend focussed on the time Mozart spent in Italy. The Cadogan Hall weekend included three formal concerts together with related talks and performances. There was a focus on different versions of Mitridate, re di Ponto, by Mozart and others, together with extracts from little-known operas by Guglielmi, Piccinni, Mysliveček and Jommelli that Mozart heard in Verona, Milan, Bologna and Naples. Continue reading

Laudario

Laudario
Musique au Temps de Saint François s’Assise
Canticum Novum
Ambronay AMY052. 62’11

In this recording, Canticum Novum explores music from the Laudario di Cortona, sacred songs from the time of St Francis of Assisi in the late 13th century. The songs were probably intended for use by the various fraternities, possibly in quasi liturgical situations such as street processionals.

Continue reading

The Sixteen: Acis and Galatea

Handel: Acis and Galatea
The Sixteen, Harry Christophers
Coro COR16169. 2 CDs, 89’03

This is an attractive reappraisal of Handel’s Acis and Galatea, the one-Act “Little Opera” (as described by Handel) that he composed in 1718 for performance at Cannons, the grandiose (and no longer existing) seat of the 1st Duke of Chandos, James Brydges in what is now a North London suburb. It seems likely that it was performed outdoors to a selective audience of house guests on a terrace of the county house, although it is not clear to what extent it was staged. It subsequently went through several incarnations and revisions during Handel’s lifetime. On this recording, Harry Christophers returns to what might have been the original Cannons version with just five singers and small-scale instrumental forces of just nine players, with pairs of violins, cellos, oboes/recorders with a three-strong continuo section of theorbo, harp, and organ/harpsichord. Continue reading

Sir George Benjamin: A Duet and a Dream

A Duet and a Dream
Philharmonia Orchestra & Voices, Sir George Benjamin
Pierre-Laurent Aimard piano, James Hall counter-tenor
Royal Festival Hall, 5 March 2020

Knussen: Choral
Messiaen: Le merle bleu (The blue rock thrush) from Catalogue d’oiseaux
Benjamin: Duet for piano & orchestra
Benjamin: Dream of the Song
Janáček: Sinfonietta

A nicely balanced programme of music dating from 1926 to 2015 saw Sir George Benjamin conduct the Philharmonia Orchestra in two of his own pieces, together with one of the piano works of his teacher, Messiaen, the 1972 Choral by the influential composer Oliver Knussen with Janáček’s rousing Sinfonietta as a finale. The opening Choral was composed for wind, percussion and double basses, the number 4 appearing to be an underlying thread in the instrumentation. As well as four double basses, there were similar quartets of slithering trombones, fluttering flutes, saxophones, oboes, bassoons and percussionists. It was composed Knussen’s vision of “several funeral procession converging into a point in the distance”, the slow pulse and evolving instrumental colour reinforcing this image. Continue reading

Bach: Harpsichord Concertos Vol 1

JS Bach: Harpsichord Concertos Vol 1
Fabio Bonizzoni, La Risonanza
Challenge Classics CC72773. 63’07

Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, BWV 1052
Concerto No. 2 in E Major, BWV 1053
Concerto No. 4 in A Major, BWV 1055
Concerto No. 5 in F Minor, BWV 1056

This is the first volume in a series of recordings of Bach’s harpsichord concertos from La Risonanza and Fabio Bonizzoni. La Risonanza play one-to-a-part with just two violins, viola, cello and violone. The pieces date from the 1730s and Bach’s time in Leipzig. He directed the Collegium musicum which gave weekly performances at the Café Zimmermann. We know that in 1733 a new harpsichord arrived and it seems this was the impetus for these concertos. Several of them draw from earlier material, the opening D Minor Concerto having a history going back about 20 years before the autograph copy used for this recording.

Continue reading

Bach: Wo soll ich fliehen hin

JS Bach: Wo soll ich fliehen hin
Cellini Consort
Ramée RAM1911. 65’44

This is a rather surprisingly successful recording of Bach keyboard works transcribed by the Cellini Consort for a trio of violas da gamba. Bach himself transcribed many instrumental pieces for keyboard, both his own and those of others: for example, his many harpsichord concertos arranged from Vivaldi. Indeed, several of Bach’s own pieces for viola da gamba are in fact rearrangements of his earlier pieces. But it is unusual to hear Bach keyboard pieces arranged for other instruments.

Continue reading

Sonatas for two violins

Sonatas for two violins
Johannes Pramsohler, Roldán Bernabé
Audax ADX13714. 63’04

Louis-Gabriel GUILLEMAIN Sonata in d minor, Op4.2
Jean-Marie LECLAIR Sonata in B flat, Op12.6
Jean-Pierre GUIGNON Les Sauvages, Tendrement, La Fustemberg Op8
Nouvelles variations des Folies d’Espagne Op9
Étienne MANGEAN (c1710-c1756 Sonata in g minor, Op3.6

Johannes Pramsohler and the Audax record company are a busy lot, issuing a steady stream of recordings, all of which are gems. Here is another one, this time with 18th-century music for two violins. These are true duets, with no bass line or other instrumental involvement. A rather unusual repertoire but well worth recording and hearing. Playing on violins dating from 1713 and 1748, Johannes Pramsohler and Roldán Bernabé achieve a remarkable cohesion of tone and of playing. It is sometimes difficult to believe there are two people playing, such is the balance between them. Continue reading

Strozzi: Virtuosa of Venice

Barbara Strozzi: Virtuosa of Venice
Fieri Consort
Fieri Records FIER003VOV. 67’18

The Fieri Consort was founded in 2012 by members of the Genesis Sixteen training programme to perform music from 16th and 17th-century Italian repertoire. This is their third CD and focusses on the music of the distinguished Italian composer Barbara Strozzi and her contemporaries Giovanni Girolamo Kasperger, Bartolomeo Selma y Salaverde, Benedetto Ferrari, Claudio Monteverdi. Strozzi is a fascinating musician, not least as a female musician in a man’s world. She had liberal and artistic parents – her father was the poet Giulio Strozzi. When she was 18 (in 1637) he founded the Accademia degli Unisoni specifically to display his daughter’s musical skills. She quickly became famed across Venice as a singer who could ‘steal the souls of her listeners through their ears with sweetness’. Continue reading

Hildegard von Bingen: Eco Sum Homo

Hildegard von Bingen
Eco Sum Homo
Tiburtina Ensemble, Barbora Kabatkova
Ricercar RIC383. 64’17

The hypnotically soaring melodies of the 12th-century visionary polymath Hildegard of Bingen have retained their prominence amongst (mostly female) early music vocalists despite, or perhaps because of, several decades of prominence since the first recordings appeared around 1980. The Prague-based Tiburtina Ensemble continue this tradition with their CD Eco Sum Homo – the title (I am a man) reflecting one of the many philosophical interpretations possible with this tantalisingly complex woman. Rather like Rudolf Steiner in more recent times, she combined her mysticism with a wide range of disparate interests and beliefs which can attract followers from many different disciplines and interests. Continue reading

LPO: 2001 New Century, New Sounds

2001: New Century, New Sounds
London Philharmonic Orchestra, Vladimir Jurowski
Royal Festival Hall, 8 February 2020

Beethoven: Symphony No. 1 in C major
Péter Eötvös: Snatches of a Conversation for trumpet, speaker and ensemble
Scriabin: Symphony No. 2 in g minor

The first concert of London Philharmonic Orchestra’s fascinating 2020 Vision project celebrated Beethoven’s 250th birthday with “a conversation between the past, the present and the future of music”. Their opening programme contrasted pieces from 1801, Subsequent programmes over the next few months will cover successive years in each of the three centuries. They opened with an adventurous programme of Beethoven, Scriabin and Péter Eötvös. Although Beethoven’s 1st Symphony was published in 1801, compositional sketches go back to 1795, and it was first performed the year earlier in April 1800 in the Hoftheater nächst der Burg in Vienna. It was something of a calling-card for Beethoven who had only recently arrived in Vienna. But it made an excellent start to the LPO’s New Century, New Sounds series of concerts. Continue reading

CPE Bach: Works for violin & keyboard

CPE Bach: Works for violin & keyboard
Tamsin Waley-Cohen, James Baillieu
Signum SIGCD573. 3 CDs. 153’12.

My heart sank when I read the blub for the recording, announcing “The full power and range of Stradivarius plus modern Steinway grand in the service of CPE Bach’s eight violin sonatas”. The liner notes go on to opine that “CPE Bach would have embraced the colour and dynamic possibilities that a Steinway and Stradivarius can create”. This was an argument that was dismissed decades ago by most in the organ world when it came to the performance of JS Bach’s organ music on large-scale romantic organs – or indeed, performance on modern orchestral instruments with 20th-century techniques, such as vibrato. But as I listened I grew more tolerant of the sound and the playing. Continue reading

Cavalli: La Calisto

Francesco Cavalli: La Calisto
Ensemble OrQuesta, Marcio da Silva

Cockpit Theatre, 31 January 2020

I arranged to see Cavalli’s La Calisto on the evening of the UK’s Brexit, sandwiching it between two pro-EU vigils in central London. I thought it would take my mind off the goings-on in Parliament Square, but soon had second thoughts. It opens with a Prologue where Nature, Eternity and Destiny meet to decide whether any humans are worthy of elevation to everlasting fame and divinity – a glory for which some humans actively promote themselves. The opera proper starts after the earth has been mistakenly destroyed by poor decision making by the powers that be. Giove arrives with his side-kick Mercurio to take back control and “restore calm to earth”. He finds the nymph Calisto in a deep depression at the sad state of things, and promptly tries to seduce her. It is soon apparent that Giove is a serial philanderer, adulterer and a serial liar of monumental proportions. So much for taking my mind off current political things.

Image may contain: 2 peopleGiove & Calisto (John Holland-Avery & Helen May)
Continue reading

Tomkins: Choral Works

O Give Thanks Unto the Lord
Tomkins: Choral Works
The Choir of HM Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace
Carl Jackson, conductor, Rufus Frowde, organ
Resonus RES10253. 74’25

Following last year’s recording of Byrd’s Great Service by the Odyssean Ensemble (reviewed here), led by the Musical Directors of the Chapels Royal in HM Tower of London, comes this recording of Thomas Tomkins (another organist to the Chapels Royal) from the Choir of another Chapel Royal on the other side of London, in Hampton Court. This follows their early recording of an early Thomas Tomkins (1572-1656) was a pupil of Byrd’s, as referenced by a song dedication To my ancient, and much reverenced Master, William Byrd. Although composing some time after Byrd, Tomkins’ compositions are very much in the Tudor idiom despite the changes of the Stuart era. Continue reading

William Byrd: The Great Service & Anthems

William Byrd: The Great Service & Anthems
Odyssean Ensemble, Colm Carey, Christian Wilson
Linn Records CKD 608. 59’25

CKD 608 Sleeve

This is the debut recording from The Odyssean Ensemble. It was released several months ago but returned to my mind while reviewing a more recent recording of Thomas Tomkins from the Choir of the Chapels Royal of Hampton Court Palace. The Odyssean Ensemble is a professional choir, directed by Colm Carey, the current director of music of another Chapels Royal at HM Tower of London, with the deputy director Christian Wilson playing the organ. A little bird tells me that the third of London’s Chapels Royal, the senior of the three, at St James’ Palace is also preparing a recording.  Continue reading

Sweelinck: Fantasias, Toccatas & Variations

Sweelinck: Fantasias, Toccatas & Variations
Richard Eggar
Linn Records CKD 589. 76’13

Cover CKD 589

As Richard Egarr mentions at the start of his liner note, Sweelinck’s music is “mostly delivered in a severe, dry and austere manner”. His rather scholarly and intense keyboard music certainly leads towards a performance broadly within that description. Indeed, after one of my all-Sweelinck organ recitals, I was complimented with the comment “you can tell from your playing that Sweelinck was Calvinist”. Continue reading

New William Drake organ at Chelsea Old Church

Celebrity Opening Concert – William Drake organ
Nathan Laube

Chelsea Old Church, 19 January 2020

Opening recitals on new organs raise several issues. The performance must, of course, be excellent in itself, regardless of the occasion. But the organ also needs to be demonstrated in a manner that future organ recitals do not need to. I have given several recitals (including, for example, at St John’s, Smith Square) where I have used little more than half of the available stops, to produce a sound that the composer might just recognise. But for an opening recital, a thorough exploration of the sounds of the new instrument is expected. If the organ is built in a specific historic style, the expectation may be that the music of that period dominates. But many organs are built in an eclectic style, capable, in theory, of coping with music from several different historical periods. Continue reading

CANCELLED. Happy Birthday, J S Bach!

Early Music Day
Saturday 21 March 2020

In light of the latest announcement by the UK Government, I am sadly having to cancel all of these concerts. Thank you to all have shown an interest, and particularly to the musicians who were lined up to perform. It is far to soon to think of when, or if, to re-schedule any of it, but Early Music Day next year is on Sunday 21 March.

All the concerts were to have been given in aid of the
Royal Society of Musicians
.

If you are willing to support this important musical charity, you can donate directly via this link https://www.rsmgb.org/fundraising/.  UK taxpayers can claim GiftAid. Please mention “Early Music Day” in the comments section of your donation.

Happy Birthday, J S Bach!

St Giles-in-the-Fields
St Giles High Street, London WC2H 8LG
(Close to Tottenham Court Road underground)

St Giles organ

Three informal 45′ afternoon Bach organ and solo instrument recitals
including organ chorales from Bach’s Leipzig manuscript.

4pm
Fantasia supra Komm, Heiliger Heist  BWV 651
Cello Suite No. 2 in D minor   BWV 1008
Prélude, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Menuetts, Gigue
O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig   BWV 656

5pm
Von Gott will ich nicht lassen   BWV 658
Nun komm’ der Heiden Heiland   BWV 659
Partita for solo flute   BWV 1013
Allemande, Corrente, Sarabande, Bourrée angloise
Jesus Christus, unser Heiland   BWV 665

6pm
Allein Gott in Der Hõh sei Ehr    BWV 662
Cello Suite No. 3 in C   BWV 1009
Prélude, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Bourrées, Gigue
Jesus Christus, unser Heiland   BWV 666
Komm, Gott, Schöpfer, Heiliger Geist   BWV 667

Special evening concert @ 7.30

AN EVENING WITH BACH

Featuring the historic St Giles-in-the-Fields organ,
with pipework dating back to Bach’s time, and solo Bach music for cello and violin.
(Free entry – donations welcomed for the Royal Society of Musicians).

The originally planned Art of Moog event had been cancelled earlier
because of the potentially high costs of a late cancellation. The Evening with Bach was a free replacement event. As it turns out, the whole church is now closed for the foreseeable future along, it seems with all CofE churches.

The organ in St Giles-in-the-Fields was originally built by George Dallam in 1678 with further work in 1699 by Christian Smith, nephew of ‘Father’ Smith. It was moved into a new organ case in the rebuilt St Giles church in 1734 by Gerard Smith the Younger. It was rebuilt in 1856 by Gray and Davison, then at the height of their fame. It was restored in 2006 by William Drake of Buckfastleigh, retaining material from 1678, 1699 and 1856. It is one of the most important historic organs in the UK. More details here.

Music for Milan Cathedral

Music for Milan Cathedral
Siglo de Oro, Patrick Allies
Delphian DCD34224. 66’26

Rather sensibly, Siglo de Oro has called this recording Music for Milan Cathedral, rather than The Motets of Hermann Matthias Werrecore which, in effect, is what it is. Werrecore (c1500->1574) is an almost totally unknown composer who became maestro di cappella of Milan Cathedral in 1522 and stayed until 1550. Confusion with another composer with a similar name didn’t help him become better known, nor did the prominence of other composers connected with Milan, including one of Werrecore’s predecessors, Josquin des Prez (c1450-1521). This excellent recording by Siglo de Oro is a well-deserved attempt to revive interest in this fascinating composer whose music, by the standards on this recording, is well worth exploring.

Continue reading

Fugue State Films: The English Organ

The English Organ
Daniel Moult, organ, Will Fraser, director 
Fugue State Films. 4 DVDs, 3 CDs, booklet

This extraordinary project is the result of a year-long tour of forty locations in England, the USA, New Zealand and Australia. The package includes four DVDs and three CDs, amounting to around ten hours of music from the early 16th century to the present day, together with an illustrated booklet with track listings and the specifications of all the organs. They are described and played by Daniel Moult, who also provides the commentary on the first DVD, which is a documentary in three 70′ parts on the development of the English organ. The following three DVDs and the three CDs provide further musical examples and, on the DVDs, further demonstrations of all the featured organs. Continue reading

Olwen Foulkes: Indoor Fireworks

Indoor Fireworks
Olwen Foulkes, recorder
Ensemble Augelletti
Barn Cottage Records, bcr021. 73’00

The recording is based on music that was performed in London theatres during the late 17th and early 18th-centuries. As well as the advertised play, an evening at the theatre would also have included musical and other entertainments before, during and after the play. Olwen Foulkes has researched this repertoire, using contemporary adverts in the Daily Courant for the Theatre Royal between 1702 and 1720 which listed many of these other entertainments. This impressive recording, her second with Barn Cottage Records, features examples of such entertainments, with examples from the composers Vivaldi, Locke, Corelli, Baston, Paisible, Grano, Tollet, Finger and Sammartini, either written for, or arranged by Olwen, for recorder and the small instrumental ensemble Ensemble Augelletti. Continue reading

Noëls baroques à Versailles

Noëls baroques à Versailles
Gaétan Jarry, organ
Les Pages du Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles
Grandes Orgues 1710, Chapelle Royale – Versailles
Chateau de Versailles CVS025. 70’40


The third in the L’âge d’or de l’orgue français series is a seasonal offering of French Noëls from Versailles. The tradition of Parisian organists playing variations on Noëls at Christmas lasted for well over 100 years from the late 17th to the end of the 18th century. Although musically their peak was in the early years of the 18th-century, with the examples of Louis-Claude Daquin and Dandrieu, their height of popularity seems to have come at the end of the century with Claude Balbastre, when French music had become somewhat debased as the Revolution approached. Such were the crowds that turned up to hear Balbastre play at the Midnight Mass, that riot police were called. The Archbishop of Paris eventually banned such services at Balbastre’s church of Saint Roch. Continue reading