Music for the King of Scots

Music for the King of Scots
Inside the Pleasure Palace of James IV
The Binchois Consort, Andrew Kirkman

Hyperion CDA68333. 55’17

Anonymous (Carver Choirbook):
Missa Horrendo subdenda rotarum machinamento; Magnificat
William Cornysh: Ave Maria, mater Dei

There is more to this recording than meets the eye – or, indeed, the ear. At one level it is an impressively performed sequence of music from the Carver Choirbook, one of just two surviving large-scale collections of music from pre-Reformation Scotland. But it is also part of two interesting research projects: ‘Space, place, sound, and memory: Immersive experiences of the past’ and ‘Hearing historic Scotland’. These have combined to bring back to life the lost performance space of the now ruined Chapel Royal of Linlithgow Palace as it existed at the turn of the sixteenth century.

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Rameau: Pigmalion

Jean-Philippe Rameau: Pigmalion
Dunedin Consort, John Butt
Spitalfields Music Festival, Christchurch Spitalfields
Online premiere, Tuesday 6 July

Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Pigmalion is an acte de ballet first performed in August 1748 at the Opéra in Paris to a libretto by Ballot de Sauvot. It was apparently composed within a week at the request of the management as a means of raising much needed revenue. It has since become one of Rameau’s finest one-act works, although performances are rare. It is based on the story in Ovid’s Metamorphoses where Pigmalion falls in love with the beautiful female statue he has just sculpted, to the chagrin of his fiancée Céphise. Pigmalion pleads with L’Amour (the goddess Venus) to bring the statue to life. As the statue comes to life and learns to sing and dance, Cupid arrives and praises Pigmalion for his artistry, followed by dancing and singing in praise of the power of love. Cupid helps Céphise to find a more appropriate lover.

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Bach Rework’d

Bach Rework’d
A film by Matt Belcher
Spitalfields Music Festival

Premiere 5 July 2021

Spitalfields Music continues to promote early and contemporary music, currently through the Spitalfields Music Festival 2021 and a series of events, some online and all ‘live’ in Covid-secure conditions. One of the early online events was the premiere of a new film by Matt Belcher, commissioned by Spitalfields Music, exploring “the enduring power of Bach’s music” through the experience of four composers. The documentary explored the importance of music for them over the past year, the works by Bach that have inspired them, and their own musical responses to those works as they returned to post-pandemic performance.

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Vivaldi’s Four Seasons

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons
Academy of Ancient Music
Richard Egarr, Rachel Podger

Live from The Barbican
First broadcast 27 June 2021. Available on-line until 29 June
.

Corelli: Concerto Grosso No 1 in D major, Op 6
Maria Grimani: Sinfonia to Pallade e Marte
Corelli: Concerto Grosso No 2 in F major, Op 6
VivaldiThe Four Seasons

Vivaldi’s Four Season’s is an inevitable war-horse guaranteed to attract audiences – in this case, a reduced socially-distanced audience for the live performance together with on-line viewers who have the option to view, for a modest fee, until 8pm on Tuesday 29 June. There are limits as to what performers can do with the Four Seasons, one being musical taste. But there is no limit as to the context in which a performance is set. And that is what makes this airing interesting, with its rare performance of the Sinfonia to Pallade e Marte by Maria Grimani, alongside two of Corelli’s well-known Concerto Grossi.

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OAE: Sea Voyages and Salvation

Sea Voyages and Salvation
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Roderick Williams, Kati Debretzeni
Recorded at New St Lawrence Church, Ayot St Lawrence
First broadcast on OAE Player 8 June 2021

Graupner Fahre auf in die Höhe 
Telemann Concerto for 3 oboes & 3 violins in Bb
Bruhns Mein Herz ist bereit  
JS Bach Cantata BWV 56 Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen 


The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment continue with their Covid series of on-line OAE Player concerts with Sea Voyages and Salvation, with music by Grauper, Telemann and Bruhns, culminating in Bach’s cantata Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen. Whether by design or default, two of the composers were the first and second choices for the post of Thomaskantor in Leipzig which Bach was eventually offered after Graupner and Telemann turned it down.

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John Worgan: Harpsichord music

John Worgan: Complete harpsichord music
Julian Perkins, Timothy Roberts
Toccata TOCC0375. 76’34

John Worgan: Complete Harpsichord Music

John Worgan (1724–90) is one of several London-based 18th-century organist composers that have escaped the present-day acknowledgment of their more famous contemporaries. However, Worgan was well respected in his day, not least by Handel and Burney, who described him as ‘a very masterly and learned fugueist on the organ’. Nowadays he is merely an overlooked byline, with an occasional organ piece popping in anthologies. His surviving harpsichord music is even less well-known. All that survives is a set of six sonatas, thirteen teaching pieces, a ‘New Concerto’, and an independent Allegro non tanto, all included on this recording. Although very far from being fine music, they feature a fascinating variety of styles, some showing the influence of Domenico Scarlatti.

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Bristol Early Music Festival

Bristol Early Music Festival
Online from 7-9 May 2021

The Bristol Early Music Festival was founded in 2018, and ran its first festival the following year. Covid led to the cancellation of the 2020 festival, and this year’s weekend festival is based on videos, most commissioned by the Festival, with live Zoom question & answer sessions after most of the videos. The festival videos and further information on each event are available here. They can be accessed until May 14th, but the Q&A Zooms were only available live. The videos are free to watch, but donations are very welcome through this link. Because of the nature of the event, and the ready availability of the events, I will not attempt a critical review, but rather just make readers aware of this interesting event.

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Fortuna desperata: Gothic and Renaissance Organ Music

Fortuna desperata: Gothic and Renaissance Organ Music
Daniel Beilschmidt
University Church of St Paul, Leipzig
Genuin GEN17453. 77’22

I have been a regular visitor for Leipzig over many years, and was always fascinated by the ever-changing landscape of the city, not least in the construction of the striking new university buildings on the Augustusplatz (pictured). This includes the Paulinum, the combined assembly hall and university church, built on the site of the old St Paul’s University church which was controversely blown up in 1968 by the city’s then communist authorities. As well as a large multi-purpose organ at the liturgical ‘west-end’, there is to one side of the chancel a swallow’s-nest organ that will ultimately be based on the late Gothic/early Renaissance instrument later described by Michael Praetorius in his 1619 Syntagma Musicum. In its currently incomplete state, it reflects a late 15th-century Gothic ‘blockwerk’ organ, allowing for performance of an important but little known repertoire that forms the foundation of all later organ music.

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Senza Basso — Auf dem Weg zu Bach

Senza Basso — Auf dem Weg zu Bach
Music by Baltzar, Matteis, Westhoff, Torelli, Corelli,

Vilsmayr, Pisendel, Purcell and Biber
Nadja Zwiener, Violin

Genuin GEN 21728. 65’57

Well known in the UK as the leader of The English Concert and in Germany as leader of the Bachakademie Stuttgart, Senza Basso — Auf dem Weg zu Bach (Without bass — on the way to Bach) is violinist Nadja Zwiener‘s first solo CD. It explores a fascinating genre of music for solo violin preceding Bach’s famous 1720 Six Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin. In his programme essay ‘Melodic polyphony, polyphonic melody – composing senza basso in the Baroque era’, Michael Maul points out the challenges of composing, playing and listening to music with a normal bass line, describing it as “an art of omission and of sensing the unplayed”.

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Gesualdo Six: English Motets

English Motets
Gesualdo Six, Owain Park
Choral music of the English Renaissance
St Martin-in-the-Fields, London
First broadcast 15 April 2021

The relationship between the Church of England and musicans has not always been an easy one. In London, two examples of turmoil in recent years have been the decision by St Sepulchre-without-Newgate in Holborn (historially known as The National Musicians’ Church and for many decades a well-known concert and rehearsal venue) to ban musicians from hiring the church for rehearsals and concerts following a take over by an Evangeical wing of the church. This was followed by a similar situation at St Martin-in-the-Fields, a venue that over the years has attracted an enormous number of visitors to the regular candlelit and other concerts promoted by individual orchestras and musicians. They stopped all outside musicians hiring and replaced it with a plan to bring all concerts in-house using their own musicians, although it does seem that at least some of the groups that helped bring international attention to the church will be giving concerts there later this year. Following these controveries, the notion of a ‘Musicians’ church’ is now subsumed with a website with around 22 churhes who are still willing to let musicians hire their buildings for music.

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AAM Live: In stil moderno

In stil moderno: Castello, Strozzi & Claudio Monteverdi
Academy of Ancient Music

Streamed from West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge. 14 April 2021

Barbara Strozzi (1619-1677) : L’eraclito amoroso & Lagrime mie
Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643): Et e pur dunque vero & Si dolce e’l tormento
Dario Castello (c1602-1631) : Sonate concertante in stil moderno, Libro Secondo

The second in the three-concert series of AAM Live 2021 events was initially billed as a farewell to their outgoing Music Director, Richard Egarr, who is now replaced by Laurence Cummings who directed the first of their AAM Live 2021 concerts, reviewed here. Although Egarr may have been an inspiration behind this programme of music from 17th-century Venice, the concert listed two directors, the AAM’s principal violinist Bojan Čičić and keyboard player Steven Devine. They were joined by mezzo Helen Charlston. Continue reading

Bach: Matthew Passion – Amici Voices

Bach: Matthew Passion
Amici Voices
Filmed in St John’s, Smith Square
First broadcast 3 April 2021

Before the 2020 Covid-19 sequence of lockdowns, the run-up to Easter in London was musically dominated by the St John’s, Smith Square series of concerts. These traditionally culminated in a Messiah and one of the Bach Passions for the final two sell-out concerts. The concert recorded there by Amici Voices and first broadcast on Easter Saturday was as far removed from previous years as you can get. Their Matthew Passion was performed in the round in the middle of the space with no audience. It was a very refreshing alternative to the usual Easter fare.

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Allegri’s Miserere in the Sistine Chapel

Allegri’s Miserere in the Sistine Chapel
Graham O’Reilly
Boydell Press, Woodbridge
Hardback, 388 pages, 234x156mm, ISBN13: 978 1 78327 487 1

`Allegri`s Miserere` in the Sistine Chapel

The approach of Holy Week seems an appropriate moment to publish this rather delayed review of this study of the Allegri Miserere – one of the most loved, discussed and performed pieces of classical music. It was composed in the 1630s for the exclusive use of the Papal Choir during Holy Week in the Sistine Chapel. Much of its fame comes from the story of the young Mozart transcribing it from memory after a single hearing – something that was specifically forbidden by the Vatican authorities under pain of excommunication. The Miserere that we hear performed today has little resemblance to either the original composition or the early methods of performance. This book gives a detailed and readable account of the Miserere‘s performance history in the Sistine Chapel and beyond, notably during the peak of its popularity in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the history of the version commonly heard today – the “English Miserere”.

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Messe Da Pacem

Messe Da Pacem
Music by Pierre Villette, Yves Castagnet and Maurice Ravel
Choir of Royal Holloway, Rupert Gough
Cavaillé-Coll organ of the Notre-Dame d’Auteuil in Paris
Ad Fontes
AF004. 75’27

Ravel: Pavane pour une infante défunte / Requiem æternam
Pierre Villette: Messe Da Pacem; Élévation; Hymne à la Vierge; Salutation angélique
Yves Castagnet: Messe Breve; Veni Sancte Spiritus


This recording from the Choir of Royal Holloway brings together three composers spanning 20th-century France, including arrangements of the Ravel and Villette Messe Da Pacem by the choir’s director, Rupert Gough. It was recorded in the summer of 2019 (apparently in sweltering heat) in the church of Notre-Dame d’Auteuil in Paris, using the important newly restored Cavaillé-Coll organ, originally completed in 1855 with an inaugural recital given by Widor.

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Early Music Day 2021

Early Music Day 2021
Andrew Benson-Wilson
21 March 2021

This time last year, I had planned to give four concerts for Early Music Day, with three Bach organ recitals (shared with baroque cellist Poppy Walshaw and flautist Annabel Knight) and a special evening concert combining Art Of Moog with the historic organ of St Giles-in-the-Fields. A year later, there is still no possibility of live events in the UK, so here is a far more modest contribution to Early Music Day 2021, with links to recordings of early organ music played on important European historic organs, either from my own recitals or more informal playing.

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More than a dull ripieno!

More than a dull ripieno!
Baroque Sonatas for Viola
 Francesca Venturi Ferriolo, Hwa-Jeong Lee, Johannes Berger
Da Vinci Classics C00280
. 72’12

Sonatas by Johann Gottlieb Graun, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach,
Johann Gottlieb Janitsch, Felice Giardini, William Flackton.

The viola is commonly held to be of little importance in the musical context.
Apparently the cause of this may be the fact that it is often played by people who are not yet very advanced with their studies, or who do not have particular natural gifts … or because this instrument offers few advantages to those who play it“.

So wrote Johann Joachim Quantz in his 1752 treatise On Playing the Flute. The intervening centuries have done little to enhance its reputation, the continuation of ‘viola jokes’ amongst orchestral players being just one example. This imaginative recording by viola player Francesca Venturi Ferriolo is an important contribution to recognising the importance of the viola, in particular during the transitional period towards the end of the Baroque era, when a wide variety of styles developed in Europe including the Galant style, the Empfindsamer Stil centred on Berlin, and the emerging Mannheim and Viennese styles.

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Life Pictures: Scenes of the Life of King Christian IV

Life Pictures: Scenes of the Life of King Christian IV
English, Dutch, German & Spanish organ works before, around & after 1600
Peter Waldner
1610 Compenius Organ, Frederiksborg Castle Church, Denmark

Tastenfreuden 8. 79’44

The 1610 organ in the rear gallery of the Frederiksborg Castle Chapel is one of the most important surviving historic instruments. It was originally built by Esaias Compenius for the summer residence of Duke Heinrich Julius, Prince of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, with Michael Praetorius, organist and Kapellmeister of the Duke’s castle chapel, as the consultant. Compenius and Praetorius almost certainly met during the famous 1596 Gröningen Castle Organ Congress, an event which gathered 53 of the finest organists to test the new David Beck organ in Duke Heinrich Julius’s castle chapel of Gröningen. Although much smaller than the Gröningen organ, the Compenius organ had many similarities, not least a demonstration of the wide range of tone colours that could be produced, unusually, in the case of the Compenius organ, with all 1001 pipes (over 27 stops) made of wood. After Heinrich Julius’s death, his wife gave the organ to her brother, the music-loving Danish King Christian IV, where it was installed in the Frederiksborg castle by Compenius in 1617.

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OAE & ABS: Rameau’s Danse des Sauvages

Rameau: Danse des Sauvages from Les Indes Galantes
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment & Acland Burghley School, Camden
Video released 9 March 2021

The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment is now based at the Acland Burghley School in Camden. In this video, a group of talented year 10 Acland Burghley students perform an original dance they choreographed for their GCSE exam, with the OAE performing Rameau’s Danse des Sauvages from Les Indes Galantes. The collaboration is an important first step in demonstrating how working together can enrich an appreciation of the arts and reinforce the positives when joining forces creatively. More information here.

Les Passions de l’Ame: Divina

Divina
Spiritual and secular baroque rarities by Schmelzer and Biber
Les Passions de l’Ame, Meret Lüthi
Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 19439763522
. 62’05

Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber (1644–1704)
Psalm 127: Nisi Dominus aedificaverit domum;
Psalm 22: Laetatus sum;
Rosary Sonata No. 16 Guardian Angel;
Partitas No. 2 & 7 from Harmonia artificiosa-ariosa
Johann Heinrich Schmelzer (c. 1623–80)
Sonatas No. 7 & 8 from Sacro-profanus concentus musicus

Following previous recordings in their Biber-Schmelzer-Fux series (Spicy, Schabernack and Variety), this new CD from the Bern-based early music group Les Passions de l’Ame focusses again on the music of Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber (1644–1704) and Johann Heinrich Schmelzer (c1623–1680), completing their recording of all the Biber trio sonatas from his Harmonia Artificiosa-Ariosa. As well as the instrumental pieces they also include two Biber vocal works.

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Inviolata: Josquin des Prez

Inviolata
Marian motets by Josquin des Prez,
intabulated for solo lute or vihuela by lutenist-composers old and new
Jacob Heringman, lute & vihuela
Inventa Records, INV1004. 65’07

Inviolata, integra et casta es; Missa de Beata Virgine; Salve Regina;
Ut Phoebi radiis/Ut re mi fa sol la; Stabat Mater

Jacob Heringman follows his pioneering 2020 recording of lute intabulations by Josquin des Prez with a new album of arrangements for lute and vihuela arranged by Hans Gerle, Alonso Mudarra, Enríquez de Valderrábano, Hans Neusidler, Simon Gintzler, composers of Josquin’s time, and Herringman himself. It is a fitting contribution to the 2021 500th anniversary of Josquin’s death.

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Beyond Beethoven

Beyond Beethoven
Works for natural horn & fortepiano

Anneke ScottSteven Devine
Resonus Classics RES10267. 77’51

Ferdinand Ries: Grande Sonate in F major, Op. 34
Friedrich Eugen Thürner: Grande Sonate in E major, Op. 29
Friedrich Starke: Adagio und Rondo, Op. 105
Hendrik Coenraad Steup: Sonate in E flat major, Op. 11

The early years of the 19th-century saw the rise of pieces for horn and piano, following Beethoven’s 1800 Sonata in F major, Op. 17. Catching on to the coat-tails of Beethoven were composers such as the four featured on this Beyond Beethoven recording, all little known except, perhaps, to horn players. They were all close contemporaries, born within 11 years of each other, with links between themselves, Beethoven, and his Op. 17 Sonata. Anneke Scott and Steven Devine perform on original instruments: a c1810 cor solo by Lucien Joseph Raoux, and an 1815 fortepiano by Johann Peter Fritz from the Richard Burnett Heritage Collection, formally at Finchcocks and now in Waterdown House, the home of the Finchcocks Charity in Tunbridge Wells.

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Sweelinck organ recital: now 24 August

Moved to 24 August

Mayfair Organ Concerts
The Grosvenor Chapel
South Audley Street, Mayfair, London W1K 2PA
Tuesday 24 August 2020, 1:10

WP_20150721_15_17_12_Pro.jpg

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.

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David Allinson: Lunchtime Live

Lunchtime Live
David Allinson

Friday 1pm lunchtime informal online talks

May be an image of 1 person

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.

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La Riturnella: Cavalli, Monteverdi, Strozzi

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.

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Cavalieri Imperiali

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.

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Suonare è danzare

Suonare è danzare
Academy of Ancient Music, Laurence Cummings, Bojan Čičić
Live from West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge. 12 February 2020

Muffat Armonico Tributo Sonata in G
Bach Sonata in E minor for violin and keyboard, BWV 1023
Telemann Concerto 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.

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OAE: Embers of Romanticism

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.

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Al Capriccio

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.

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Alexander Utendal: Meine Tage sind wie Schatten

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.

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Mattheson: The Melodious Talking Fingers

Mattheson: The Melodious Talking Fingers
Colin Booth, harpsichord
Soundboard SBCD 220. 69’47

Mattheson CD

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.

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