Bach: Sonatas Plamena Nikitassova & Peter Waldner Musik Museum 46, CD13045. 74’30
This recording is one of a series produced by the Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum in Innsbruck. Although the title is just ‘Sonaten’, the programme is actually a selection of Violin Sonatas, three with obligato harpsichord (BWV 1016, 1017 & 1019), one for solo violin (BWV 1005) and an arrangement, possibly by Bach, of the first movement of that solo sonata for harpsichord (BWV 968).
Pyrotechnia : Fire & Fury from 18th-century Italy Bojan Čičić and The Illyria Consort Delphian DCD34249. 72’52
Vivaldi: Violin Concerto in D, RV205 “fatto per Maestro Pisendel“ Vivaldi: Violin Concerto in D, RV213a “per Signora Anna Maria“ Tartini: Violin Concerto in E, D 48 “Rondinella vaga e bella“ Locatelli: Violin Concerto in D, Op3/12 “Il laberinto armonico“
‘Fireworks’ is a term often used to describe virtuosic playing or advanced musical textures but in this case, the connection with the word is real. This CD from violinist Bojan Čičić and his Illyria Consort gets its title from the book Pyrotechnia, the earliest guide to recreational fireworks. It was published in 1635 by the gunner, John Babington. The four violin concertos chosen to display Bojan Čičić’s own virtuosity all have movements ending in a capriccio, a virtuosic display cadenza that became the norm in the later Classical and Romantic era concertos. Several of Vivaldi’s own improvised cadenzas have survived through copies made by his own pupils.
Enigma Fortuna Zacara da Teramo complete works La Fonte Musica, Michele Pasotti Alpha Classics, ALPHA 640. 4 CDs, 3h57’53
Antonio Zacara da Teramo (nicknamed Zàcara because of his short stature) seems to have been born in or shortly after 1360 in the Abruzzi region close to the Adriatic coast. Confusion over his name (his music survives under such names as Zacar, Zaccara, Zacharie, Zachara, and Çacharius amongst others), led to the assumption that he was actually several different composers. His parental family were scribes and manuscript illustrators, and his early years were in the same profession, despite being severely disabled, with several fingers and toes missing. He moved to Rome in 1391, where he sang in Pope Boniface IX’s papal choir as well as being a scriptor litterarum apostolicarum (Papal secretary). He later was part of the chapel of antipope John XXIII in Bologna during the 1414 Schism. This four-CD box set from La Fonte Musica, directed by Michele Pasotti, is a world premiere of Zacara’s complete works.
Mother, Sister, Daughter Musica Secreta, Laurie Stras Kings Place, 10 June 2022
CD and download Lucky Music, LCKY001.
As part of their Voices Unwrapped series of concerts, Kings Place welcomed vocal group Musica Secreta and their director, Professor Laurie Stras in a CD launch programme celebrating “women’s spiritual relationships and the stories they tell” under the title of Mother, Sister, Daughter. The music revealed musically creative women from 15th and 16th-century communities of sisters, notably in the convents of Santa Lucia in Verona and San Matteo in Arcetri, Florence. It includes motets attributed to Lucrezia Borgia’s daughter, Suor Leonora d’Este, and an Office of St Clare from the convent of Galileo’s illegitimate daughter, Suor Maria Celeste Galilei, together with music by Brumel, Maistre Jhan and anonymous (and possibly female) composers. It culminated in a newly commissioned work by Joanna Marsh.
Bach Organ Works Vol. X: Art of Fugue Margaret Phillips Richards, Fowkes and Co. organ, 2012 St George’s Hanover Square, London Regent Records REGCD558. 2 CDs. 120’58
The Art of Fugue, BWV1080 Canonic Variations on ‘Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her’, BWV769 The Art of Fugue, Contrapunctus XIV completion by Kevin Korsyn
The final volume of Margaret Phillips’ complete Bach organ works is a version of The Art of Fugue, arranged for organ. I say ‘arranged’ because there is no indication of which instrument Bach intended his monumental work – if, indeed, he ever intended it for performance at all. It was written and published in open-score, with a separate musical stave for each of the four voices. There are no orchestral instruments of the time that could play all the lines on the same instrument, leading to the assumption that it was intended for the harpsichord. Performance on the organ is common, although there are many questions to be considered, not least the choice of registrations.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Myth of Venice 16th-century music for cornetto & keyboards Gawain Glenton & Silas Wollston Delphian DCD34261. 61’50
In a very successful bit of promotional branding, medieval Venice built a perception of itself as La Serenissima (“the most serene”) and the successor of ancient Rome, with a similarly impressive range of foundation myths and ceremonials, that led historians to reference as the Myth of Venice. The myth was largely supported by its architecture, then as now a draw for visitors from around the world. This recording, The Myth of Venice explores the musical development of the Myth of Venice, exploring the 16th-century Venetian composers and performers who helped to put Venice on the musical map. Their starting point is Adrian Willaert’s arrival in 1527 on to the end of the century, with composers including Parabosco, Padovano, Merulo, Andrea Gabrieli, Bellavere, Ganassi and Bassano.
Continuo Foundation A video resume of eight of the 2021 grant-aided projects
The Continuo Foundation (reviewed here) has published a whistle-stop video tour of eight of the 37 projects that were supported by their 2021 grants, with short extracts from the full concerts all of which were live-streamed on the OnJam platform. Tickets to watch the full films can be purchased until the end of January 2022 (links below). The ensembles featured are Joglaresa, The Mozartists, Ensemble Hesperi (pictured above), Boxwood & Brass, Consone Quartet, Palisander, Spiritato Baroque & The Marian Consort, and La Nuova Musica.
Monteverdi Vespers L’Arpeggiata, Christina Pluhar Tue 14 Dec 2021, Barbican Hall
Monteverdi’s monumental 1610 Vespro della Beata Vergine is now considered mainstream repertoire, but it was unusual to hear it performed alongside the inevitable sequence of Messiah’s in the run-up to Christmas. It was equally good that, amongst the current complicated Anglo-French relations, London could welcome the French group L’Arpeggiata and their founder/director Christina Pluhar. Current Covid and travel issues meant that they were rather more Anglo than usual, with several UK musicians drafted in at short notice to replace those unable to travel. The concert took place live on 14 December in the Barbican Hall, but was also available to stream live, which is how I saw the performance.
The Di Martinelli Collection Violin sonatas of the late 17th century Eva Saladin, violin Glossa Music GCD 922521. 69’07
This excellent debut recording from the Swiss-Dutch violinist Eva Saladin features a selection of pieces from a manuscript of 32 late 17th-century violin sonatas, dating from the years around 1690, found amongst the 65 manuscripts and 32 prints of the Di Martinelli Collection in the archives of the University of Leuven. The pieces are of various origins, with a focus on three regions, the Flemish-Netherlands, South German & the Habsburg regions, and Italy. The collection was put together by members of the Italian di Martinelli family, who had settled in present-day Belgium. These violin sonatas seem to be connected with the second generation di Martinelli, Guillelmus Carolus, a violinist and singing master based in Diest, in Brabant.
The Ghost in the Machine Emily Baines, recorders, Amyas First Hand Records FHR 113. 62’41
The launch concert on Wednesday 15 December has been cancelled. It will return in the New Year
It has long been the case that many ‘early music’ recordings and performances are preceded and supported by a considerable amount of research by the performers. This recording from Amyas is one particularly interesting example. It is based on 10 years of research by Emily Baines (culminating in her doctorate) into the evidence of 18th-century performance style found in mechanical musical instruments of the period, such as barrel organs and musical clocks with tiny organs inside them.
Johann Ludwig Krebs: Keyboard Works Vol 1 Steven Devine, harpsichord Resonus Classics RES10287. 72’0)
Partita in A minor, Krebs-WV 825 Fugues in C major, E major, F major, F minor, G major, and A minor, Krebs-WV 843/848 Concerto in G major “in Italiänischen Gusto”, Krebs-WV 821
Johann Ludwig Krebs (1713-1780) is another of those overlooked composers, despite there being a large amount of surviving music. He is probably best known as Bach’s favourite organ pupil, and the focus (reflected in the CD cover photo) of Bach’s comment Er ist der einzige Krebs in meinem Bache – “He is the only crayfish (Krebs) in my brook (Bach)”, a reference to Krebs’ ability as an organist, rather than being the only Krebs pupil as Bach also taught Krebs’ father. His music falls into a slightly awkward gap between the High Baroque style of late Bach and the new Galant and Classical styles that rendered much of ‘Old Bach’s’ music out of date.
O Mirandum Mysterium Sacred works by Giovanni Legrenzi from the music archive of the Benedictine monastery in Marienberg in South Tyrol Capella Claudiana, Marian Polin Tiroler Landesmuseen. Musikmuseum 47, CD13046. 52’00
Although Giovanni Legrenzi (1626-1690) was well known in his own lifetime, he is one of those frequent composers whose name and music is almost unknown today. In Legrenzi’s case, he is probably only known through Bach’s youthfully flamboyant organ Fugue “on a theme of Legrenzi”, although this is either based on a lost Legrenzi work or one that is not a by Legrenzi at all. This compelling recording should help to bring him to the attention of a much wider audience. It is based on music by Legrenzi found in the remarkably wide-ranging musical archive of the remote Marienberg monastery in Vinschgau in the South Tyrol.
Pachelbel: Organ Works, Vol 1 Matthew Owens 1965 Frobenius Organ, The Queen’s College Chapel, Oxford Resonus RES10285. 71’03
In what promises to be a comprehensive survey of Johann Pachelbel’s organ music, Matthew Owens explores what is probably this enigmatic composer’s least appreciated genre. Pachelbel (1653-1706) was based in South Germany at a time when the famous North German organ school was at its height – he died a year before Buxtehude. His music has been overshadowed by his contemporaries in the northern cities, and this series of recordings should do much to rekindle knowledge of his specific musical style. It will hopefully put to rest his unfortunate post-1970s reputation as the composer of the famous Canon – a piece that is hardly ever performing in a style that Pachelbel would remotely recognise.
Key Notes Early European Keyboard Music Corina Marti Outhere/Ramee RAM 1916. 65’54
It is many decades since keyboard music was assumed by many to have started with Bach. This recording offers a chance to explore a little-known repertoire of music for organ and other instruments dating from the medieval period. The recording draws on manuscripts such as the Buxheimer Orgelbuch, Lochamer Liederbuch, Ileborgh Tablature, and the Montpellier, Robertsbridge, Las Huelgas, and Faenza codices. Many of the pieces are arrangements (or intabulations) of pre-existing music by, for example, Pierre des Molins, Giovanni da Firenze, Philippe de Vitry, Francesco Landini and Jacopo da Bologna. The instruments used are a metal-stringed clavisimbalum, a gut-stringed claviciterium, two portative organs and the 1730 organ in Nicolaikirche in Altenbruch in northern Germany which contains pipework from the original 1501 organ.
Edinburgh 1742: Barsanti & Handel Parte Seconda Ensemble Marsyas, Peter Whelan Colin Scobien, Elizabeth Kenny Linn CKD 626. 51’51
The Italian Francesco Barsanti (c1690-1775) arrived in London in 1723 and moved to Edinburgh in 1735 to join the Edinburgh Musical Society. This is a follow up to the 2017 recording by Ensemble Marsyas, CDK 587 (reviewed here), and completes Barsanti’s set of Op.3 Concerto grossi, together with four pieces from his Collection of Old Scots Tunes, both published in 1742. Barsanti’s connection with Handel is represented by the latter’s Overture to Atalanta, HWV 35, a piece in the possession of the Edinburgh Musical Society.