Tunder Appreciated

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.

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OAE Player: Messiah

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.

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12 Days of Christmas

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.

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Messiah

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.

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Burghclere Baroque

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.

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Beethoven 250: Hanover Band

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.

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Carina Drury: Irlandiani

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.

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Dunedin Consort: How Lonely Sits the City

How Lonely Sits the City
Dunedin Consort, Nicholas Mulroy
Filmed at Greyfriars Kirk
19 November 2020

Scheduled Live thumbnail

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

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London Sound Gallery

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

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OAE Player: Seeing Double

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.

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Die Schöpfung

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.

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OAE Player: Apollo e Dafne

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
Handel Apollo 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.

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Mozart à Portuguesa

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.

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Early Music Young Ensemble Competition

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.

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LIFEM DIGITAL: Fretwork

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.

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Hammerschmidt: Ach Jesus stirbt

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.

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Ensemble Augelletti: Arcardian Wilderness

Arcardian Wilderness
Ensemble Augelletti
Brighton Early Music Festival
24 October 2020

Arcadian Wilderness

One of the many festivals going online is the Brighton Early Music Festival with ten events broadcast on YouTube and Facebook between 23 October to 1 November 2020. They are then available for seven days afterwards. It is possible to view for free within that period, but viewers are encouraged to buy online tickets and donate. One particular concert that caught my eye, and ear, was from the young group Ensemble Augelletti. The Facebook link to the concert is here.

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Bach: Das Wohltemperierte Klavier II

Bach: Das Wohltemperierte Klavier Volume 2
Steven Devine, harpsichord
Resonus Classics RES10261. 2 CDs. 73’03+75’42

Following his Volume 1 of Das Wohltemperierte Klavier (The Well-Tempered Clavier reviewed here), Steven Devine returns with a very welcome recording of Bach’s second book of Preludes & Fugues, published around 20 years after the first book. Unlike the Book 1 Preludes and Fugues (BWV 846-869) which survive in Bach’s autograph, Book 2 (BWV 870-893) has two principal sources with contribtions by Bach’s family, but only one withs any evidence of Bach’s hand.

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Northern Star Festival: A Glimpse of Earthly Delights

A Glimpse of Earthly Delights
Northern Star Festival 2020 Online
The Swedish Church in London. 18 October 2020

When one coffee-loving soul meets another . . .
A love story riding on the river of ground bass surrounded by all delights on earth and everything wonderful in life.

With little chance of a live audience, many musicians are taking to online concerts. One such is this delightful video from the Northern Star Festival, with a performance of “music and poetry about food, drink, love and all that’s wonderful in life“.

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Handel: Ode for St Cecilia’s Day

Handel: Ode for St Cecilia’s Day
Bach Choir of Bethlehem

Bach Festival Orchestra, Greg Funfgeld
Analekta AN 2 9541

Cover of Handel Ode to St Cecilia CD

The first thing to understand is that this is not the Bach Choir of Bethlehem – or at least, not of that Bethlehem. This Bethlehem is in Pennsylvania – and the Bach Choir is a 120-year-old amateur choir. It is the oldest Bach choir in America and gave the first performances in the USA of Bach’s B minor Mass and the Christmas Oratorio. This recording reflects their anniversary.

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Master Musicians: Bach

Bach
David Schulenberg
Oxford University Press
: Master Musicians series
Hardback, 448 pages, 235x156x23mm, ISBN13: 9780190936303

Bach must be one of the most written about of all composers, so the addition of another outline of his life and music needs to have something extra to offer. Bach scholarship continues to discover new works and new evidence and ideas about his life and music. Since Malcolm Boyd’s original 1983 Master Musicians Bach volume and its three revisions, understanding of Bach and his music’s historical and cultural context has shifted substantially, reflecting new biographical information and insights. So David Schulenberg’s contribution to the Master Musicians series is very welcome.

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Animam gementem cano

Animam gementem cano
Tuma – Stabat Mater; Biber – Requiem
Pluto-Ensemble, Hathor Consort
Marnix De Cat, Romina Lischka
Ramee RAM1914. 61’34

Animam gementem cano: Tuma - Stabat Mater; Biber - Requiem | Ramee RAM1914

Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber (1644-1704) Requiem in F minor
Johann Heinrich Schmelzer (c1620-1680) Sonata IX in G
Andreas Christophorus Clamer (1633-1701) Partita I in E minor
Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber Sonata VIII à 5 in G
František Ignác Antonín Tůma (1704-1774) Stabat mater in G minor

The Pluto-Ensemble was founded by Marnix De Cat to “perform music based on Truth of the human being, with a message of beauty and joy”. It takes its name from the planet Pluto, “the third mistery-planet of the Aquarius-era.  After Uranus and Neptunus, influencing the heart and the mind, Pluto is the re-creator of man as a higher being”. Their companions for this recording of music from Hapsburg Vienna and Salzburg is the Hathor Consort (directed by Romina Lischka) takes its name from the Egyptian mother goddess Hathor.

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Anna Stegmann: Fantasy & Design

Fantasy & Design
A digital video recital for one recorder player alone in three episodes
Anna Stegmann
July, August, September 2020

Shorn of live performance opportunities, many musicians are taking to the internet to display their wares. One such in the German-born but Amsterdam-based recorder player Anna Stegmann, a regular teacher at in the UK at the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal Northern College of Music. She released the three episodes of Series One, Fantasy and Design, during July, August and September 2020. It is the first of a continuing programme of short (15/20′) recitals, with Series Two following monthly from October to December. The videos can be previewed and seen in full for “a small financial contribution” with the option to add donation after each episode.

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Cafe Zimmermann: Lamento

Lamento
Cafe Zimmermann, Damien Guillon
Outhere/Alpha 626. 69’06

Literary history is full of laments, from the very earliest writings. They occur in all religions and have been the foundation of much musical expression in all parts of the world. So an entire CD devoted to such Lamento is not such an unusual approach to building a satisfying musical programme. And this recording from the French ensemble Café Zimmermann fulfils the brief excellently with music from the 17th-century German speaking realms.

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The Queen’s Six: Journeys to the New World

Journeys to the New World
Hispanic Sacred Music from the 16th & 17th centuries
The Queen’s Six

Signum Classics SIGCD626. 66’23

The Queen’s Six are all based at Windsor Castle where they are Lay Clerks at St George’s Chapel. They promote themselves as providing a “unique style of entertainment” with a repertoire that “extends far beyond the reach of the choir stalls: from austere early chant, florid Renaissance polyphony, lewd madrigals and haunting folk songs, to upbeat Jazz and Pop arrangements”. Perhaps fortunately, on this recording they remain firmly in the choir stalls for some Renaissance New World polyphony dating from the mid-16th century to c1700.

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Lobo: Masses

Duarte Lobo: Masses, Responsories & Motets
Cupertinos, Lius Toscano
Hyperion CDA68306. 70’18

Duarte Lobo (c1565-1646) was one of the most prominent composers of the Portuguese Golden Age, gaining an international reputation during his lifetime. He is not to be confused with the Spanish Alonso Lobo (1555-1617). Early musical studies at Évora Cathedral led to posts as maestro di cappella at Évora Cathedrak, the Hospital Real de Todos-os-Santos, Lisbon, and at Lisbon Cathedral where he remained for nearly 50 years. This very welcome recording includes many premiere recordings of this remarkable composer in outstanding performances by Cupertinos, under Lius Toscano.

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Georg Friedrich Händel: Neun Deutsche Arien

Georg Friedrich Händel: Neun Deutsche Arien
Penelope Appleyard, Florisma
Convivium Records CR043. 52’00

Handel’s Neun Deutsche Arien (Nine German Arias) were composed around 1725, some sixteen years after his arrival in London. In sharp contrast to his compositions at the time (which included the operas Tamerlano, Rodelinda, and Alessandro), these nine short arias, all but one in da capo form, are intimate small-scale pieces for a solo singer, a solo instrument and continuo bass. Continue reading

From the GROUND up

From the GROUND up
David Hill, Peterborough Cathedral organ
Regent REGCD539
. 67’48

From The Ground Up

There is more to this recording than a ‘mere’ display of 20th-century British organ music, most based on a ground bass, usually in its particular incarnation as a Passacaglia, played on a grand English cathedral organ by one of England’s most distinguished organists. But that alone is enough to recommend the recording. It encompasses a wide range of music styles, generally influenced by German organ composers, dating from 1910 to the present day, together with a lovely little contrasting contribution from Orlando Gibbons, from the early 17th-century. Two major gems of the repertoire and a substantial new piece are balanced by a sequence of short pieces.

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Lachrimæ Lyræ

Lachrimæ Lyræ: Tears of Exile
Sokratis Sinopoulos, Lacheron, François Joubert-Caillet
Outhere/Fuga Libera, FUG 753. 65’38

If you thought the sound of a consort of viols was etherial, plaintive and evocative, wait till you hear this exotic combination of a viol consort combined with a Greek lyra. Taking John Dowland’s 1604 Lachrimæ or Seaven Teares as its point of departure, the recording aims to “paint a transverse and stateless picture of melancholy, set against the joyful hope of a shining future that appears in these improvisations and timeless Anglo-Byzantine dances”. Continue reading

Henry Aldrich: Sacred Choral Music

Henry Aldrich: Sacred Choral Music
Cathedral Singers of Christ Church, Oxford
James Morley Potter, David Bannister, The Restoration Consort
Convivium Records CR052. 80′

 You would be forgiven if, like me, you had never heard of Henry Aldrich (1648-1710). He was something of a polymath, combing roles as Dean of Christ Church, Oxford and later Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University with interests in logic, architecture and music, composing works for the Christ Church Chapel (which doubles as Oxford’s Cathedral). He is probably best known today, if at all, for his 1750 book on logic Artis Logicæ Compendium, but he also designed the church of All Saints, Oxford (now the library of Lincoln College) and the Peckwater Quadrangle in Christ Church. This timely recording brings some of his music to well deserved public attention. Continue reading