An Adriatic Voyage The Illyria Consort and The Marian Consort Bojan Čičić, Rory McCleery, directors London Festival of Baroque Music St John’s Smith Square. 15 May 2022
CD: Adriatic Voyage Seventeenth-century music from Venice to Dalmatia Delphian DCD 34260. 58’26
Music by Francesco Sponga (aka Usper), Gabriel Spona, Gabrielo Puliti, Vicenz Jelić, Julije Skovelić, Ivan Lukačić, and Thomasso Cecchini.
It is not often that I review a concert where only one of the composers seemed familiar, and that one confused me with a different version of his name. This excellent concert (and the extended CD version) was inspired by the record of a 1575 journey by the Venetian diplomat and naval commander Giacomo Soranzo as he set sail from Venice to Constantinople. As they sailed down the Istrian coast, (present-day Croatia) they called in at various port cities, most of which were within the territory of the Venetians and subject to the continual movement of trade and people bringing different influences to the varied local culture. The concert is by composers who lived on the Dalmatian coast in the years after Soranzo’s expedition.
London Festival of Baroque Music A Venetian Coronation Gabrieli, Paul McCreesh St John’s, Smith Square, 13 May 2022
The 2022 London Festival of Baroque Music opened with a very welcome throwback to the 1990s and Paul McCreesh and Gabrieli Consort’s large-scale liturgical reconstructions, here represented by a rerun of A Venetian Coronation, a musical re-creation of the 1595 Coronation Mass for the Venetian Doge Marino Grimani. This was first performed in St John’s, Smith Square and has since been recorded twice and performed many times around the world.
The Library of a Prussian Princess Ensemble Augelletti Barn CottageRecords BCR024. 60’25
Music by J S Bach, Handel, Corelli, Geminiani, C P E Bach, and Princess Anna Amalia
The Prussian Princess of the title is Anna Amalia (1723-1787), the younger sister of Frederick the Great. Despite the brutal childhood she shared with her brother, she managed to maintain a love of music, often in secret and aided by her brother. After a failed attempt to marry her off in her early 30s, she became the Abbess of the secular Imperial Abbey of Quedlinburg, a position of enormous wealth and power. Shortly after she started serious musical studies with Johann Philipp Kirnberger, a pupil of Bach and had a (still existing) organ built for her Berlin palace. She amassed an enormous library of music which is now part of the Berlin State Library. This imaginative and beautifully performed recording by Ensemble Augelletti is based on music from that library, including four pieces by Anna Amalia herself.
Philippe de Monte: Madrigals and Chansons Ratas del viejo Mundo Outhere/Ramée RAM2004. 50’59
The curiously named Ratas del viejo Mundo (Rats of the Old World) take a nibble at the music of Philippe de Monte (1521-1603). Although praised in his day, de Monte is now a rather under-rated composer, at least in comparison to the many other Flemish musicians who made their name in the wider European context. Like many of his compatriots, he soon moved to Italy where he made his name in Naples and Rome. He spent a brief time in England in the choir of Philip II of Spain before becoming Kapellmeister in the chapel of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II.
Johann Gottlieb Goldberg: Complete Trio Sonatas Ludus Instrumentalis, Evgeny Sviridov Ricercar RIC 426. 69’57
Trio Sonata in C, DürG 13 (was BWV 1037) Trio Sonata in A minor, DürG 11 Trio Sonata in G minor, DürG 12 Trio Sonata in B flat, DürG 10 Prelude and Fugue in g, arranged from Dür G 5 Sonata for 2 violins, viola & continuo in C minor, DürG 14
Johann Gottlieb Goldberg (1727-56) has been overlooked as little more than the name attached to the famous JS Bach variations, rather than a respected composer in his own right. This excellent recording from Ludus Instrumentalis should help to set the record straight. Goldberg was born near Danzig. In 1737 he met Wilhelm Friedemann Bach in Dresden, a trip instigated by the art-loving Count von Keyserlingk who was impressed with the 10-year old’s musical skills. After initial studies with WFB in Dresden, he moved to Leipzig in 1746, perhaps to study with JS Bach. The Bach variations were later composed for Goldberg to play for the insomniac Keyserlingk. Goldberg died aged 29 of consumption but, despite his young age, was described by a writer at the end of the 18th century as being on the same level as Bach and Handel.
Master & Pupil Exploring the Influences and Legacy of Claudio Monteverdi Sestina Music, Mark Chambers Resonus/Inventa INV1007. 71’18
Following a crowdfunding scheme, the Belfast based early music group Sestina have released their debut CD, Master and Pupil. The title ‘Master and Pupil’ (and yes, it is blurred on the CD cover) relates to the notion of musical apprenticeship, with inspiration passing down through the generations from master to pupil. For this recording, Sestina concentrates on the influences on, and the influences of, the music of Claudio Monteverdi both from his own teachers and on his own pupils. This approach reflects Sestina’s own philosophy, which is based on younger musicians being “placed under the wings of experienced professionals in an apprentice-like fashion”.
In ancient Greek, ΙΕΡΟΣ | HIEROS means ‘sacred’, a theme portrayed by the Ensemble Céladon vocal trio in this recording. It alternatesmedieval music with contemporary compositions (all a cappella) in an examination of “the musical evolution of the sacred”, contrasting 13th-century conductus from the School of Notre-Dame to the six works by French composer Jean-Philippe Goude (b1952).
Johann Ludwig Krebs (1713 – 1780) Keyboard Works Volume 2 Steven Devine, harpsichord Resonus Classics RES10300. 77’17
Overture ‘nach dem Franzoischen Gout’, Krebs-WV 820 (1741) Partita in B-flat major, Krebs-WV 823 (1743) Sonata in A minor, Krebs-WV 838 (c1763)
Steven Devine follows up his 2021 Krebs: Keyboard Works Volume 1 with the aptly titled Krebs: Keyboard Works Volume 2, again with a crustation-themed cover photo. Please see the review of Volume 1 for more background information, a crustation explanation, and a warning about the title of this 4 volume series. This second volume focuses on three multi-movement pieces, demonstrating Krebs’ diverse style over a 24-year period ranging from Baroque and Galant to Classical genres, a contrast also demonstrated by the differing styles of Bach’s sons, all of whom shared JS Bach as a teacher.
Bach: Complete Organ Works: Vol 8 ‘North German influences‘ Pieter van Dijk DMP Records, DVH 140417. 2CDs 81’20+81’00
Recording, or playing, the complete Bach organ works is a milestone in any organist’s life, but the are many issues to consider. These include the choice of organ/s and the programming of individual recitals or CDs. One organist who has negotiated these issues very successfully is Pieter van Dijk, organist of the prestigious St. Laurenskerk in Alkmaar, Professor for organ at the Conservatory of Amsterdam and the Hochschule für Musik und Theater, Hamburg, and the artistic director of Organfestival Holland. His recorded Complete Organ Works has reached Volume 8, which is reviewed here. I understand that there will be two further double CD releases within the next year or so to complete the edition, and subscriptions are offered. I will give a brief outline of some of the earlier CDs, but I think this volume should be of particular interest to organ lovers as it deals with the early North German influences on the young Bach and includes several lesser-known works.
Jehan Titelouze Hymnes de l’église & Le Magnificat Ed. Jon Baxendale 251 pages • ISMN 979-0-706670-54-6 (Hardback) • 979-0-706670-55-3 (Wire) Lyrebird Music. LBMP–026
The latest in the enterprising range of music editions from Lyrebird Music features the only known organ publications of Jehan Titelouze (c1562-1633), organist at Rouen Cathedral and generally considered to be the founder of the French organ school. He composed his two books of organ versets in 1623 and 1626. The 1623 Hymnes de l’Église pour toucher sur l’orgue, avec les fugues et recherches sur leur plain-chant was the first published collections of organ music in 17th-century France, and the first since the 1530s. It contained sets of three or four verses for each of the twelve major hymns of the church year. The 1626 Le Magnificat ou Cantique de la Vierge pour toucher sur l’orgue suivant les huit tons de l’Église included settings of eight Magnificats in all eight church modes, each with seven verses. They both used the alternatim format with organ (odd-numbered) verses alternating with the even-numbered verses which would have been sung by a cantor or a choir.
Schütz & Bach Vox Luminis, Lionel Meunier St John’s, Smith Square. Easter Sunday, 17 April 2022
Chorale: Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin Schütz: Musikalische Exequien, Op.7 Bach: Actus Tragicus, BWV 106. Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 4
Regular visitors to St John’s, Smith Square in pre-Covid days, the Belgium group Vox Luminis made a very welcome return to celebrate the 350th anniversary of Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672) with a performance of his Musikalische Exequien, a piece they recorded around 10 years ago to great acclaim, and frequently perform. They contrasted this with Bach’s Actus Tragicus and Christ lag in Todesbanden to bring to a close the St John’s, Smith Square Easter Festival.
Arvo Pärt & Robert White Sansara & Fretwork St John’s, Smith Square, 14 April 2022
For many years, St John’s, Smith Square has been the musical place to be in the run-up to Easter. This year’s Easter Festival was no exception. The seven-day event included regulars such as Polyphony, in their traditional Good Friday Passion, alongside the usual focus on other early music performances. The first two events rather countered that focus with the 1915 Rachmaninoff All-Night Vigil opening the festival followed by Dupré’s 1931 Le Chemin de la Croix for organ. Another was the concert by the vocal group Sansara and the viol consort Fretwork, reviewed here, which contrasted music by the contemporary Estonian composer Arvo Pärt with Robert Wight’s Lamentations à 5.
Divine Songs of Passion Fair Oriana, with David Wright & Harry Buckoke St Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield, London EC1A 13 April 2022 (and at Sands Films Music Room on 21 April)
As part of their Holy Week Mass and Music series of events, the historic church ofSt Bartholomew the Great in London’s Smithfield invited the soprano duo, Fair Oriana, to perform their programme Divine Songs of Passion. This well-constructed concert was based around François Couperin’s c1714 Leçons de ténèbrespour le mercredi saint, contrasted with music by d’Anglebert, Purcell, Pergolesi and Blow. The date of the concert was appropriate, as the only surviving part of the Couperin Leçons de ténèbres is the one for the Wednesday of Holy Week. The other two sets of three Leçons composed for the following two days are lost. Although the Lamentations of Jeremiah depict the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, they have long been associated with Holy Week.
Couperin: Leçons de Ténèbres Sophie Junker, Florie Valiquette, Orchestre de l’Opéra Royal, Stéphane Fuget Château de Versailles Spectacles CVS034. 53’03
Couperin: Leçons de Ténèbres, Motet pour le jour de Pâques Lalande: Cantique Quatrième
This recording from the prolific label Château de Versailles Spectacles contrasts Couperin’s well-known Leçons de Ténèbres with his near contemporary Michael Richard de Lalnande’s Cantique Quatrième: Sur le Bonheur des Justes et le Malheur des Réprouvés and his own Motet pour le jour de Pâques: Victoria Christo Resurgenti. One of my biggest issues with this recording is the excessive vibrato from both singers. This not only causes intonation problems but, particularly in French Baroque music, wreaks havoc with the ornaments. One of the accompanying essays is a lengthy analysis of French ornaments, so it is surprising that more effort wasn’t made to keep the surrounding vocal texture reasonably pure toned so that the ornaments could be heard clearly. As it is, the ornaments often come over as just another wobble.
Jacques Boyvin? Le Manuscrit CaumontOrgue Ed. Jon Baxendale 231 pages • ISMN: 979-0-706670-18-8 (English hardback) • 979-0-706670-39-3 (English wire softback) Lyrebird Music. LBMP–019
This Lyrebird Music edition brings to life an important manuscript of French Classical organ music dated 1707. Its earlier provenance is unknown until it appeared in an auction in Normandy from where it passed on to an antique dealer in Amiens. It was bought from there in 2008 by the current owner, whose name has been attached to what is now known as Le Manuscrit Caumont. Very sensibly, given the quality of his other Lyrebird Music editions, the owner asked Jon Baxendale to research and edit the manuscript and produce this splendid edition.
Amavi Fantasias, verse anthems and vocal works by Michael East Chelys Consort of Viols and Fieri Consort St Gabriel’s Church, Pimlico. 17 March 2022
With the financial support of the Continuo Foundation, the Chelys Consort of Viols andFieri Consort gave a concert of music by the little-known English composer, Michael East (c1580–1648, aka, Easte, Est, Este). This was part of a short UK tour of the programme, and was preceded by a reception for Continuo Foundation supporters during which members of the two groups explained the programme and described the instruments. After a Cambridge Univesity music degree and a few years in the choir of Ely Cathedral, East moved west to spend the rest of his career as choirmaster at Lichfield Cathedral. He published seven groups of compositions, including the Fantasias for five viols performed here. They are unusual in that each of them has a name, ranging from Desperavi (I despaired) to Amavi (I loved) via Vixi (I lived) and Triumphavi (I triumphed). For this concert, they were interspersed with vocal pieces by East that reflected the mood of each Fantasia.
Bach: St John Passion Academy Choir & Baroque Players, Matthew Best St John’s, Wimbledon, 12 March 2022
Choral societies have a long and noble tradition in the UK. They provide much-needed employment opportunities for the young professional musicians brought in as soloists as well as giving the opportunity to perform for the vast body of amateur singers whose membership fees keep the shows on the road. The Academy Choir is one such. It was founded in Wimbledon in 1980 and since 2000 has been based at the church of St John the Baptist, Spencer Hill, Wimbledon. It is an auditioned choir, rather than taking all-comers, and the musical standards are obviously high. Since 2017 their musical director has been Matthew Best. My invitation to review their performance of the St John Passion promised that “our concerts tend to be ‘a cut above’ what might typically be expected to be found in a suburban church, given by a local choir”, a claim that proved itself correct.
MUSIC-AT-HILL: MIDTOWN CONCERTS St Giles-in-the-Fields Friday 18 March 2022
Andrew Benson-Wilson organ Poppy Walshaw cello
Johann Sebastian Bach (1675-1750) Pastorella per Organo (BWV 590) [Alla Siciliana– Allemande– Aria– Alla Gigue] Cello Suite No.3 in C. (BWV 1009) Prelude – Allemande – Courante – Sarabande – Bourrée I/II – Gigue Partite diverse sopra Il Chorale O Gott, du frommer Gott (BWV 767)
La la hö hö Sixteenth-century viol music for the richest man in the world The Linarol Consort Inventa RecordsINV1005. 67’26
It is not known whether the ‘richest man in the world’, the merchant and banker to the Hapsburgs, Jakob Fugger of Augsburg (aka ‘Fugger the Rich’), actually commissioned the manuscript recorded here, as suggested by David Hatcher’s programme notes. But it was certainly in the Fugger library soon after its completion around 1535. That was ten years after Jacob’s death when his nephew Anton Fugger was head of the family and was probably also the ‘richest man in the world’. Following the reduction in the Fugger family’s power in the mid-17th century, their vast library was sold to Emperor Ferdinand where it became the foundation of the National Library of Austria. The manuscript (Vienna Ms. 18-810) contains 86 pieces of German, Flemish and French pieces, mostly by composers such as Heinrich Isaac, Ludwig Senfl and Paul Hofhaimer, linked to the court of Maximillian I, together with Pierre de la Rue and Josquin des Prez, favourites of his daughter Marguerite of Austria, then ruler of The Netherlands.
I am the World Choral and Organ Music for International Women’s Day BBC Singers, Grace Rossiter, Anna Lapwood Live from Temple ChurchandonBBC Radio 3 and iPlayer. 8 March 2022
As part of a series of events to mark International Women’s Day, the BBC Singers, directed by Grace Rossiter, presented a live broadcast of music by leading 21st Century women composers from the Temple Church in London. It included four world premieres, one of which was commissioned by the BBC for the occasion. Alongside the vocal works were pieces played by the organist Anna Lapwood from her own new anthology of commissioned organ pieces by female composers, aimed at younger organists.
Byrd 1588 Psalmes, Sonets & Songs of sadnes and pietie Alamire, Fretwork, David Skinner Inventa Records INV1006. 2CDs, 78’54 + 78’20
The 1588 Psalmes, Sonets, & songs of sadnes and pietie was William Byrd’s first solo publication after the Cantiones Sacrae of 1575, a joint venture with Thomas Tallis. This recording is also a joint venture between the chamber choir Alamire and the viol consort Fretwork. It was recorded, appropriately, in the isolated church of All Saints’ Church, Holdenby, in Northamptonshire, the only surviving relic of a village that was moved by Sir Christopher Hatton, Elizabeth I’s Lord Chancellor and the patron of the 1588 collection, when he built (in 1583) the nearby Holdenby House, itself now reduced to a few remnants from its initial grandeur as one of the largest houses in the country.
Nicolas de Grigny(1672-1703) Premier Livre d’orgue(1699) Ed. Jon Baxendale 234 pages • ISMN 979-0-706670-02-7 (Hardback) • 979-0-706670-28-7 (Wire) Lyrebird Music. LBMP–008
The 1690s saw the publication of two of the most important contributions to the literature of French organ music. François Couperin’s 1690 Pièces d’Orgue (new Lyrebird edition reviewed here) is the best known of the two, with its approachable musical style that owes much to the wider musical language of Paris at the time, notably operatic arias and dances. Nicolas de Grigny’s Premier Livre d’orgue (now available in this impressive new Lyrebird edition) was published in 1699, three years before his untimely death. In contrast to Couperin’s youthful offering, de Grigny’s music delves spiritual, emotional and musical depths that most other French organ composers of the period lacked. He is well-deserving of editor Jon Baxendale’s comment that he was the “most erudite of Grand siècle organ composers”.
New Worlds: Travelogue – Nicholas Lanier Academy of Ancient Music, Laurence Cummings Anna Dennis, Thomas Walker Milton Court & AAM LIVE stream. 18 February 2022
As part of their New Worlds series, the Academy of Ancient Music explored the life and times of the much-travelled lutenist, courtier and musical adventurer Nicholas Lanier in their Milton Hall and AAM LIVE streamed concert New Worlds | Travelogue. Lanier was from a French Huguenot family with an Italian mother. He was a court musician and composer to both King Charles I and Charles II, becoming the first Master of the King’s Music in 1625. He made several visits to Italy to acquire paintings for Charles I, during which he experienced the new style of Italian secondo pratica music from the likes of Claudio Monteverdi. He subsequently introduced the recitative style to England. He was painted by van Dyck in Antwerp and persuaded the King to bring Van Dyck to England.
Fantasie G. Ph. Telemann (1681-1767): 12 Fantasias for Flute Solo Joana Amorim, flute Veterum Musica, VM028. 55’26
Telemann published his 12 fantaisies à traversière sans basse (TWV 40:2–13) in Hamburg in 1732/3. It was one of a series of four sets of fantasias for unaccompanied instruments that he published between 1732/5: 36 for harpsichord and two sets of 12 each for violin and viola da gamba. This new recording from Veterum Musica features the Portuguese flautist Joana Amorim in an impressive interpretation of these delightful miniatures that feature practically every musical idiom of the period.
Jean-Philippe Rameau: Les Indes Galantes Ensemble OrQuesta, Marcio da Silva The Cockpit. 6 February 2022
This was French Baroque opera, but not as Rameau might have known it. Les Indes Galantes was first performed in 1735 in the form of a heroïque opéra-ballet, with elaborate dance movements dominating the vocal music. It would have involved a large orchestra, a substantial troupe of dancers, up to 21 solo singers, and spectacular staging and special effects that included, amongst other things, a storm at sea and a volcanic eruption. This delightful version, performed by Ensemble OrQuesta in the square black-box Cockpit Theatre had an ‘orchestra’ of just eight, including the director, Marcio da Silva and nine singers. The only real props were some long sticks, used in dance sequences and to delineate stage areas.
Jacob Regnart: Missa Christ ist erstanden with Missa Freu dich, du werthe Christenheit and motets Cinquecento Hyperion CDA68369. 64’45
Jacob Regnart (c1540-1599) is one of the lesser-known Flemish born composers who dominated European music during the 16th-century. Born in Douai, he soon moved to Prague, singing in the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II’s Hofkapelle. His career remained within the Hapsburg realms, rising through the ranks under three successive Hapsburg rulers. He spent several years in Innsbruck in the court of Maximilian’s brother Archduke Ferdinand II, where much of his sacred music seems to have been composed, although it was not published until after his death. Those works include the two Mass settings included on this excellent recording from Cinquecento (Terry Wey, countertenor, Achim Schulz & Tore Tom Denys, tenors, Tim Scott Whiteley, baritone, and Ulfried Staber, bass).
See, See, the Word is incarnate Choral & Instrumental music by Gibbons, Tomkins & Weelkes The Chapel Choir of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, Newe Vialles, Orpheus Britannicus Vocal Consort, Andrew Arthur Resonus Classics RES10295. 70’51
The Chapel Choir of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, under the College’s Director of Music, Andrew Arthur, follow their previous recording of Buxtehude (reviewed here) with this exploration of some of the best-known music from the early decades of the 17th-century. This was the period when James I was on the throne of the two kingdoms of Scotland and England. Gibbons and Weelkes were both dead by the end of his reign (in 1625), but Tomkins (the first-born of the three) lived on until 1656 to witness, at considerable personal loss, the collapse of the Stuart dynasty and the Commonwealth.
This is the second recording of Buxtehude Trio Sonatas from Arcangelo (Sophie Gent, Jonathan Manson, Thomas Dunford and Jonathan Cohen). Their early Opus 1 disc is on ALPHA 367. The second set of Trio Sonatas was published in 1696. As with the first, it demonstrates the wide range of international influences in Lübeck at the time.
This is a very welcome new edition of François Couperin’s 1690 Pièces d’Orgue. It is a revised version of the edition published by Cantando Musikkforlag in 2018, but is now issued under the Lyrebird Music label. There are several improvements on the layout of the earlier version,. which remains the only commercially available critical edition. One of the problems with Couperin’s Pièces d’Orgue is that it was not printed, but published in manuscript form. There is only one surviving copy of that original manuscript, but four other sources of it, with varying degrees of accuracy. Editor Jon Baxendale has revisited the five known sources to discover which is the most accurate.