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’Amefocusses 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.
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.
Beyond Beethoven Works for natural horn & fortepiano Anneke Scott, Steven Devine Resonus ClassicsRES10267. 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.
Lunchtime Live David Allinson Friday 1pmlunchtime informal online talks
Amongst the many online activities of musicians during Covid 19 is a fascinating series of informal 45-minute Friday lunchtime chats from David Allinson, a distinguished early music conductor, singer and lecturer based in Canterbury, UK. With all his conducting engagements cancelled for the past year, he has taken to the internet in a most imaginative and engaging way. As well as running a number of online workshops for local Early Music Fora, since October 2020 he has been giving regular Friday lunchtime chats via his Facebook page and accessible on his website, where past sessions remain available.
La Riturnella Cavalli, Monteverdi & Barbara Strozzi Musica Antica Rotherhithe, Oliver Doyle Live-streamed from the Sands Films Music Room, 21 February 2020 Available on-line
In their online performance, La Riturnella, Musica Antica Rotherhithe concentrate on three generations of Italian Baroque composers – Claudio Monteverdi, Francesco Cavalli, and Barbara Strozzi. All three are related through teacher-pupil relationships, with Monteverdi teaching Cavalli who, in turn, taught Strozzi. The imaginative programme also featured a piece by Girolamo Kapsberger and some folk songs of the period from Calabria in the far south of Italy, arranged by soprano Camilla Seale. The socially distanced performance was broadcast live from the attractive little Sands Films Music Room, located in a former granary in Rotherhithe, on the south bank of the Thames, just east of the City of London.
Cavalieri Imperiali Zenobi & Sansoni, the great cornetto masters InALTO, Lambert Colson Ricercar RIC419. 64’36
The cornett was the principal solo instrument in the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras, before losing that role to the violin. Its sound closely resembles that of the human voice, to the extent that, in a review, I once referred to a talented young soprano as being “a cornett on legs”. This excellent instrumental recording from InALTO pays tribute to two notable cornett players from the decades on either side of 1600, both of whom were knighted by an emperor.
Al Capriccio Concertos and symphonies by Johann Zach (1713–1773) Barocksolisten München, Dorothea Seel, Anne Marie Dragosits Musikmuseum MMCD 13035. 66’47
Barocksolisten München, directed by flautist Dorothea Seel, explore the music of the idiosyncratic composer Johann (Jan) Zach. He was born into a family of wheelwrights near the pilgrimage town of Brandýs nad Labem in central Bohemia, site of the murder of Duke Wenceslas. In 1724 he moved to Prague where he worked as a violinist and studied organ. His short-lived career as organist seems to have culminated in an unsuccessful application in 1737 for the position of organist at St. Vitus Cathedral. He reappears in early 1745 in Augsburg just before his appointment as Kapellmeister at the court of the Prince Elector of Mainz.
Meine Tage sind wie Schatten Alexander Utendal Psalms from Septem Psalmi poenietentiales & Magnificats Profeti della Quinta Musikmuseum 37, CD13036. 56’18
This 2018 recording in the impressive series of recordings from the Tiroler Landesmuseen in Innsbruck, (under the banner of musikmuseum), focusses on the now little-known composer Alexander Utendal (c1530-1581). His link with the Tyrol started from his early days in Hapsburg Flanders where he was a choirboy at the court of Mary of Hungary, Regent of the Netherlands. He then sang alto in the Court chapel of Archduke Ferdinand II of Tyrol, moving to Innsbruck in 1564 where he suceeded Jacob Regnart as Vice Kapellmeister. In his time, he had a strong reputation. His collection of four-part penitential psalms, printed in 1570, have been compared to those of Orlando di Lasso (published some years later). Utendal worked for linked courts, and would have known each other well.
Mattheson: The Melodious Talking Fingers Colin Booth, harpsichord Soundboard SBCD 220. 69’47
Many music lovers will have heard the name of Johann Mattheson (1681-1764), and may perhaps have heard of his 1739 Der vollkommene Capellmeister, his rather shaky polemic on music theory, but few will know much of his music. An enigmatic figure in 17th century Hamburg, he is perhaps best known today for nearly killing Handel during a fight in the Hamburg opera, Handel apparently surviving by a well-placed button that deflected Mattheson’s sword. His early career as an organist (at the long-since demolished Mariendom), singer and opera composer was combined with that of an Anglophile diplomat, serving as secretary to the English Envoy Extraordinary to the Hanseatic city-states. He is sometimes referred to as the first music critic. This recording is of his complete Die Wolklingende Fingeraprache (translated on the recording as The Melodious Talking Fingers), first published in 1735.
Apparatus musico-organisticus Baroque organ works from Tyrolean sources Peter Waldner Musikmuseum 51 MMCD 13050. 65’29
In this recording, the prolific Innsbruck-based organist Peter Waldnerplays two historic organs in the western part of the Italian South Tirol close to, and just over, the border with Switzerland. The choice of organs, and to an extent the music, is focussed on that region, not least because the nearby Benedictine Abbey of Marienberg contains the Tyrol’s only known copy of Georg Muffat’s 1690/1721 Apparatus musico-organisticus which forms the bulk of the CD.
Stile Nuovo Weihnachtsmusik Von Christoph Sätzl& Marienvesper im Dom zu Brixen 1641 Odhecaton, La Venexiana, Prishna Musikmuseum 41, CD13040. 2CDs 59’12+57’57
I have been sent several CDs published by the Music Museum of the Tiroler Landesmuseen in Innsbruck. One of which is this set of two CDs, the first of which is of early Baroque Christmas motets from Tyrol and Italy (recorded in 2016) with a second CD (recorded, live, in 2000) of Marienvespers music from Brixen Cathedral as might have been heard around 1641. The two CDs do not seem to be related, although it is not clear if this is a re-release of earlier published recordings.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Handel: Ode for St Cecilia’s Day Bach Choir of Bethlehem Bach Festival Orchestra, Greg Funfgeld Analekta AN 2 9541
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.
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.
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.
Journeys to the New World Hispanic Sacred Music from the 16th & 17th centuries The Queen’s Six Signum ClassicsSIGCD626. 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.
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.
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 David Hill, Peterborough Cathedral organ Regent REGCD539. 67’48
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.
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 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 →
What’s next Vivaldi? Patricia Kopatchinskaja (violin), Il Giardino Armonico, Giovanni Antonini Outhere/Alpha ALPHA624. 70’56
If you manage to get past the unremitting frenzy of the opening Vivaldi La Tempesta di Mare Concerto there is a chance that you might be able to appreciate the rest of this extraordinary recording. Violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja has been described as an “irresistible force of nature: passionate, challenging and totally original in her approach”, in the citation for her 2014 Royal Philharmonic Society award as Instrumentalist of the year). When combined with the energy of Il Giardino Armonico the result is potent.
Bachs Mentoren (Bach’s Mentors) Peter Waldner Tastenfreuden 4. 75’16
This recording was self-pubished by Peter Waldner in 2012 as part of his Tastenfreuden series but has only just been sent to me for review. It includes music by the North German composers Buxtehude, Reincken and Bõhm, noted as Bach’s “mentors”, played on harpsichord, octave spinet and muselar. The word “mentor” might a little wide of the mark, as there is no evidence any of these three musicians actually taught the young Bach, although he was certainly strongly influenced by them in his early years.
Duo1702+ – Coffee Edition Louise Hjorth Hansen, recorder Katrine I. Kristiansen, organ Gateway DUO170201. 58’56
“Baroque music in the name of coffee – induced by Covid-19” is the sub-text of this recording from Duo1702 and friends. Made in response to the Covid crisis, the two Danish members of Duo1702, Louise Hjorth Hansen, recorder, and Katrine Kristiansen, organ, are joined by five of their musical friends to perform music by Bach, Finger, Telemann, Morten Ræhs, Purcell, and Vivaldi. Their intention is to recreate the atmosphere of the Zimmermann Kaffeehaus in Leipzig where Bach and his sons made music to the accompanyment of coffee drinking.
Laus Polyphoniae: Polyphony connects 21-30 August 2020
In normal circumstances I would be on my way to Antwerp for their annual Laus Polyphoniae festival, but current events have led to it moving on-line for a virtual festival. Under the title of Polyphony Connects, their programme looks back on past editions of Laus Polyphoniae as well as looking to the future. Combining music from different centuries in archive recordings and live events, it also includes documentaries, introductions, a book presentation, an international summer school, and an educational music holiday.