Duo1702+ – Coffee Edition

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.

Continue reading

Bach: The Trio Sonata Project

JS Bach: The Trio Sonata Project
Tripla Concordia, Walter Van Hauwe
Outhere/Arcana A114. 63’08

The tradition of rearranging music for different forces is a long one, and one that Bach himself used frequently. The Bach ‘Trio Sonata Project’ is inspired by this practice, and includes one piece that Bach himself arranged from an earlier work of his (BWV 1027). The other transcribed pieces are BWV 527, 997, 1028 & 1029. Three of them were originally for viola da gamba and harpsichord, one for lute, and one from the famous set of organ Sonatas.  Continue reading

Bach: Sonatas & Partitas for solo violin

JS Bach: Sonatas & Partitas for solo violin
Thomas Zehetmair
ECM New Series 2551/52. 2CDs, 59’21+67’12

Sei Solo - The Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo

After first recording the Bach solo violin works in 1982 on a modern violin, albeit with more than a nod to the then-current notions of early performance practice, Thomas Zehetmair now returns with a Baroque instrument and two period bows, one for the Partitas, and the other for the Sonatas. It is recorded in a very generous acoustic, far removed from the possible chamber acoustic that Bach may have had in mind. But the violin speaks clearly though the background bloom, aided by Zehetmair’s careful articulation. Continue reading

Variations: Goldberg & Topelius

Goldberg Variations & Topelius Variations
Arctic Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, Henning Kraggerud
Simax PSC1353. 74’20

Bach: Goldberg Variations (arr. Kraggerud & Lund)
Henning Kraggerud: Topelius Variations

This is a combination of an arrangement for string orchestra of Bach’s Goldberg Variations with a set of variations composed in 2017 by Henning Kraggerud, the leader of the Arctic Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra. It was inspired by the life of the Swedish-speaking Finn, Zachris Topelius (1818-1898), a historian and a writer of essays, poems, fairytales and children’s stories, who helped to develop a Finnish identity as it moved towards eventual independence. Continue reading

Bach: An Italian Journey

Bach: An Italian Journey
Luca Oberti, harpsichord
Outhere/Arcana A443. 71’18

This 2018 release is from a harpsichord player that I am not familiar with. His programme gathers together pieces with an Italian influence, including transcriptions of concertos by Vivaldi and Marcello, and pieces of Italian inspiration like the Aria Variata alla maniera Italians and the Capriccio sulla lontananza del fratello dilettissimo. It finishes, inevitably, with the Italian Concerto. Continue reading

Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier Book II

J S Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier Book II
Céline Frisch, harpsichord
Outhere/Alpha Classics: Alpha 451. 2 CDs. 69’45+76’06

Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II
Following on from her CD of Book I of the Well-Tempered Clavier, Céline Frisch (o-founder of the Café Zimmermann ensemble) now offers us Book II. It was completed twenty-two years after Book I, in 1744. It was recorded on a 1998 two manal copy by Andrea Restelli of the single manual 1738 Christian Vater harpsichord now in the Germanisches National Museum, Nuremberg. Continue reading

Bach: Johannes-Passion

J S Bach: Johannes-Passion
Collegium Vocale Gent, Philippe Herreweghe
Outhere/PHI LPH031. 2CDs 107’08

 

Cover of CD of Herreweghe Bach Johannes Passion

I can often predict the way in which a performance of the Johannes-Passion is going to develop by the manner in which the opening instrumental bars are performed. The texture appears simple. Swirling low strings underpinned by the repetitive pulse of continuo bass, with two oboes slowly intertwining dissonance-laden melodic lines above them. It is one of those passages of music that can be interpreted in many ways, resulting in differing moods ranging from sinister, threatening, mysterious, to gently calming. Continue reading

Bach: Well-Tempered Consort 1

J S Bach: Well-Tempered Consort – 1
Phantasm
Linn CKD 618. 66’55

Cover CKD 618

This CD could well become essential listening for all organists and harpsichord players, alongside the various examples of Bach organ works played on recorder consorts. Transferring Bach’s keyboard works, such as The Well-Tempered Clavier, Musical Offering and Clavier-Übung III, to a viol consort reveals the sensitivity of timbre possible with bowed string instruments rather than a plucked or wind-blown one. Of course, keyboard players have their own, often complex, way of imparting musical expression to their playing within the limitations of their particular instrument, principally by using aspects of touch and articulation. But it is only the clavichord, which was arguably the instrument of choice in the Baroque era, that has the ability to change the nature of the sound of a note once it has started sounding, using the technique known as bebung which imparts a controllable vibrato to sounding notes.

Continue reading

Bach: The Well-tempered Clavier, Book One

JS Bach: The Well-tempered Clavier, Book One
Colin Booth, harpsichord
Soundboard SBCD218. 2CDs, 59’31+62’12

This is the first of two double-CD volumes of Bach’s Das Wohltemperierte Klavier (The Well-Tempered Clavier) from Colin Booth. It covers the 24 Preludes and Fugues (BWV846-869) written in all 24 major and minor keys forming what is now known as Book 1 of ‘The 48’. It only survives in manuscript copies from 1722, with no printed edition unto around 1800. The manuscript title page announces that it was composed “for the profit and use of musical youth desirous of learning, and especially for the pastime of those already skilled in this study”. Continue reading

J S Bach: Soprano Arias & Swedish Folk Chorales

J S Bach: Soprano Arias & Swedish Folk Chorales
Maria Keohane, Camerata Kilkenny
Maya Recordings MCD1901. 58’10

This recording contrasts the little-known genre of Swedish Dalakorals with seven Bach soprano arias, all with obligato violin. The Dala chorales come from the region of Darlana in the centre of Sweden and the 16th-century Protestant Reformation. The first Lutheran Psalm book was published in 1695 and included many of these melodies. They are influenced by folk song and pre-Reformation melodies combined with an improvisatory practice common in village churches. Continue reading

Bach: Sei Suonate

J S Bach: Sei suonate à cembalo certato è violino solo
Chiara Zanisi, Giulia Nuti
Outhere/Arcana A426. 2CDs, 41’16+54’03

Bach’s Six sonatas for violin and obbligato harpsichord (BWV 1014–1018) were first composed during Bach last few years in Köthen (c1720-23) although he continued to revise them after his move to Leipzig in 1723, from where all the surviving sources are found.  This recording, released in 2017, features  violinist Chiara Zanisi and Giulia Nuti, harpsichord. Continue reading

Bach: Cantatas and Arias for Bass

Bach: Cantatas and Arias for Bass
Dominik Wörner, Zefiro, Alfredo Bernardini
Arcana A466. 62’17


Cantata: Ich habe genung BWV 82
Aria: Gott ist gerecht from Cantata: Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort BWV 20
Cantata: Der Friede sei mit dir BWV 158
Aria: An irdische Schatze das Herze zu hangen from Cantata: Ach wie fluchtig, ach wie nichtig BWV 26
Cantata: Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen BWV 56
Aria: Warum willst du so zornig sein from Cantata: Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott  BWV 101

One of the problems that Bach encountered on his arrival in Leipzig was the quality of the available musicians, in comparison to those employed by the Köthen court Kapelle. Bass singers seem to have been a particular problem, perhaps ineveitable in a boys choir, although, as Peter Wollny explains in is excellent notes, most of the musicians that Bach could draw on were only around for relatively short time. Six bass singers are specifically named, one becoming his own son-in-law. Continue reading

Solarium

Maxime Denuc: Solarium
Cindy Castillo, organ
VLEKD31   94’36

Solarium is a piece for organ, first performed by Cindy Castello in l’église du Gesu, Toulouse during the 2019 Électro Alternativ festival. It is an hour-and-a-half organ piece intended for “… that period of slack that follows the frenzy of a techno-fuelled night” and took place at 10am on a Sunday morning as an “after-party”. I am not sure that many organists get up to frenzied techno-fuelled nights, but there is much here for organists to appreciate, not least the extraordinary sounds that a traditional pipe organ can produce, as well as anybody interested in the techno world of ambient minimalist music. Continue reading

Von Westhoff: Suites for Solo Violin

Johann Paul von Westhoff: Suites for Solo Violin
Plamena Nikitassova
Outhere: Ricercar RIC 412. 56’59

Johann Paul von Westhoff (1656-1705) was one of the leading members of the flourishing school of Dresden-based violinists during the latter decades of the 17th-century. He was born in Dresden. His father was a lutenist and trombone player from Lübeck, who had briefly been a captain of horse in the Swedish army. Apart from influence from his father, the young Westhoff also learnt while serving in the Dresden Hofkapelle. He was one of the first to compose music for unaccompanied violin, a genre that culminated with Bach. This excellent recording by Plamena Nikitassova reveals the enormous talents of this adventurous composer. Continue reading

JS Bach: Six Suites for Viola Solo

J S Bach: Six Suites for Viola Solo
Kim Kashkashian
ECM New Series ECM 2553/54. 2CDs 65’05+77’26

Six Suites for Viola Solo

Yes, you read the title correctly – these are Bach’s six ‘Cello’ Suites, but are here played on a viola by the distinguished American violist Kim Kashkashian. With no original manuscript in Bach’s own hand, there have been many questions about these Suites, one being what type of instrument they were actually written for. Continue reading

Bach: Orgelbüchlein

Bach: Orgelbüchlein
Stephen Farr
1724-30 Trost organ, of Waltershausen, Germany.
Resonus RES10259. 79’02

Bach’s Orgelbüchlein (Little Organ Book) is one of the most extraordinary of all Bach’s organ collections and compositions. At first sight, it a simple collection of chorale preludes intended to introduce the sung chorales in the Lutheran services. Bach also intended it as a way “in which a beginning organist receives instruction on performing a chorale in a multitude of ways while achieving mastery in the study of the pedal”. But the sequence of 45 chorales, and the tantalising sight of 119 potential chorales for which only the title and an empty page exists, are a sum of a great deal more than a sum of the parts, leading to Albert Schweitzer’s description of it as “one of the greatest events in all music.”.    Continue reading

Bach Organ Works Vol IV

JS Bach: Organ Works Vol IV
Robert Quinney
Coro COR16132. 77’31

J.S. Bach: Organ Works Volume 4 album cover showing detail of a stained glass window in reds, oranges and yellows

For the third time in this series, currently of four CDs, Robert Quinney returns to the influential 1976 Metzler organ in Trinity College Chapel, Cambridge. It was built into the 1694 ‘Father’ Bernard Smith case, and retains several of Smith’s pipes in the principal chorus. The new organ was an early example of the North German Baroque-influenced organ style that had hitherto largely avoided the UK. Although it lacks the historical interest of restored organs of Bach’s time in Germany, it remains a suitable UK organ for Bach performance.  Continue reading

Early Music Day (at home): 7:30pm

Early Music Day
Stay at Home Edition

Happy Birthday, J S Bach!

Click the links below to take you to publically available videos of the pieces that we would have performed during the informal 45′ afternoon Bach organ and solo instrument recitals that would have taken place in London’s St Giles-in-the-Fields on Early Music Day at 4, 5 & 6pm. This is the programme for the final 7:30pm concert, given by

Art of Moog & Andrew Benson-Wilson (organ) 

The poster for the series of events can be found here, as amended after the earlier pull out of Art of Moog because of the Coronavirus. Their 7:30pm evening concert with the historic St Giles-in-the-Fields organ is recreated with video links although sadly, none will have the combined Art of Moog and pipe organ. All the organ pieces below would have been combined with the Art of Moog instrumentalists.

An introduction to the Art of Moog
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUJ8XSBHYnE

Art of Moog: Live at Kings Place – Selections
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_B3Y1tXAhw

Art of Fugue Contrapunctus 1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5KjVEYzYAw
Benjamin Alard
l’église d’Arques-la-Bataille

Art of Fugue Contrapunctus 2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0HeE4MF01g&list=PL6cXnOI-FfSgtlLkIE5D1nXf660II0Pdd&index=8&t=0s
Glenn Gould

Adagio from The Easter Oratorio BWV 249
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CklCJk6kNFg
Art of Moog

Prelude in E minor
https://youtu.be/4_5efQbjybk
Art of Moog

Erbarm dich mein, o Herre Gott, BWV 721
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3CNS2iK790
Ton Koopman
1643 Hans Heinrich Bader organ, St. Walburgiskerk, Zutphen

Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPMeBNU9fes
Wolfgang Zerer

Christ lag in Todesbanden
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqwgeKOgezg
Wolfgang Zerer

Adagio from the viola da gamba sonata BWV 1029
https://youtu.be/3eAzorClu78
Art of Moog

Toccata D Moll BWV 565
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xeqQo7bCvE
Jacques van Oortmerssen
1992 Glauco Ghilardi organ: S. Maria Assunta, Smarano

These concerts were to have been given in aid of the
Royal Society of Musicians
.

If you are willing to support this important musical charity, you can donate directly via this link https://www.rsmgb.org/fundraising/.  UK taxpayers can claim GiftAid. Please mention “Early Music Day” in the comments section of your donation.

#earlymusicday

Early Music Day (at home): 6pm

Early Music Day
Stay at Home Edition

Happy Birthday, J S Bach!

Click the links below to take you to publically available videos of the pieces that we would have performed during the informal 45′ afternoon Bach organ and solo instrument recitals that would have taken place in London’s St Giles-in-the-Fields on Early Music Day at 4, 5 & 6pm. This is the programme for the third, 6pm concert, given by

Andrew Benson-Wilson (organ)
playing organ chorales from Bach’s Leipzig manuscript
Poppy Walshaw (cello)

The poster for the series of events can be found here, as amended after the earlier pull out of Art of Moog because of the Coronavirus. Their 7:30pm evening concert with the historic St Giles-in-the-Fields organ will be similarly recreated with similar video links although sadly, none will have the combined Art of Moog and pipe organ.

Allein Gott in Der Hõh sei Ehr BWV 662
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QW2J10wRT2k
Jacques van Oortmerssen

Cello Suite No.3 in C. BWV 1009
Prélude, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Bourrées, Gigue
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFtZ9tQiFxM
Colin Carr

Jesus Christus, unser Heiland BWV 666
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQP-necHTK4
Bine Katrine Bryndorf

Komm, Gott, Schöpfer, Heiliger Geist BWV 667
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdBLy6VePyk
Simon Thomas Jacobs
Richards, Fowkes & Co organ, St George’s Hanover Square

These concerts were to have been given in aid of the
Royal Society of Musicians
.

If you are willing to support this important musical charity, you can donate directly via this link https://www.rsmgb.org/fundraising/.  UK taxpayers can claim GiftAid. Please mention “Early Music Day” in the comments section of your donation.

#earlymusicday

Early Music Day (at home): 5pm

Early Music Day
Stay at Home Edition

Happy Birthday, J S Bach!

Click the links below to take you to publically available videos of the pieces that we would have performed during the informal 45′ afternoon Bach organ and solo instrument recitals that would have taken place in London’s St Giles-in-the-Fields on Early Music Day at 4, 5 & 6pm. This is the programme for the second, 5pm concert, given by

Andrew Benson-Wilson (organ)
playing organ chorales from Bach’s Leipzig manuscript
Annabel Knight (flute)

The poster for the series of events can be found here, as amended after the earlier pull out of Art of Moog because of the Coronavirus. Their 7:30pm evening concert with the historic St Giles-in-the-Fields organ will be similarly recreated with similar video links although sadly, none will have combined Art of Moog and pipe organ.

Von Gott will ich nicht lassen BWV 658
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnsMlPv3MZk
Sietze de Vries

Nun komm’ der Heiden Heiland BWV659
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gQ-7caubYk
John Scott
Taylor & Boody organ in the Gallery of Saint Thomas Church, New York

Partita for solo flute BWV 1013
Allemande, Corrente, Sarabande, Bourrée angloise
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onB39cumbF4
Marten Root

Jesus Christus, unser Heiland BWV 665
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFd8VBV5eCg
Bine Katrine Bryndorf

These concerts were to have been given in aid of the
Royal Society of Musicians
.

If you are willing to support this important musical charity, you can donate directly via this link https://www.rsmgb.org/fundraising/.  UK taxpayers can claim GiftAid. Please mention “Early Music Day” in the comments section of your donation.

#earlymusicday

Early Music Day (at home): 4pm

Early Music Day
Stay at Home Edition

Happy Birthday, J S Bach!

Click the links below to take you to publically available videos of the pieces that we would have performed during the informal 45′ afternoon Bach organ and solo instrument recitals that would have taken place in London’s St Giles-in-the-Fields on Early Music Day at 4, 5 & 6pm. This is the programme for the first, 4pm concert, given by

Andrew Benson-Wilson (organ)
playing organ chorales from Bach’s Leipzig manuscript
Poppy Walshaw (cello)

The poster for the series of events can be found here, as amended after the earlier pull out of Art of Moog because of the Coronavirus. Their 7:30pm evening concert with the historic St Giles-in-the-Fields organ will be similarly recreated with similar video links although sadly, none will have the combined Art of Moog and pipe organ.

Fantasia supra Komm, Heiliger Heist BWV 651
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vohG88Mj2f4
William Porter
North German style organ in Smarano, Italy

Cello Suite No. 2 in D minor BWV 1008
Prélude, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Menuetts, Gigue
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mg3nVSe–f4
Eva Lymenstull

O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig BWV 656
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YawozgUoYEI
Wolfgang Zerer
St Catherine’s Church, Hamburg

These concerts were to have been given in aid of the
Royal Society of Musicians
.

If you are willing to support this important musical charity, you can donate directly via this link https://www.rsmgb.org/fundraising/.  UK taxpayers can claim GiftAid. Please mention “Early Music Day” in the comments section of your donation.

#earlymusicday

 

Early Music Day (at home)

Early Music Day
Stay at Home Edition

Happy Birthday, J S Bach!


Early Music Day events around Europe are cancelled because of Coronavirus, including my own concerts in St Giles-in-the-Fields.

A live broadcast from behind closed doors is not possible, so at the start time of the four concerts I will post a programme of publically available videos of the pieces that we would have performed.

The first three will reflect the informal afternoon Bach organ and solo instrument recitals which would have taken place at 4pm, 5pm & 6pm, followed by a selection of the pieces that Art of Moog and I might have played in the 7:30pm evening concert although sadly, none will have the combined Art of Moog and St Giles-in-the-Fields pipe organ.

These concerts were to have been given in aid of the
Royal Society of Musicians
.

If you are willing to support this important musical charity, you can donate directly via this link https://www.rsmgb.org/fundraising/.  UK taxpayers can claim GiftAid. Please mention “Early Music Day” in the comments section of your donation.

#earlymusicday
@earlymusicday

 

Bach: Harpsichord Concertos Vol 1

JS Bach: Harpsichord Concertos Vol 1
Fabio Bonizzoni, La Risonanza
Challenge Classics CC72773. 63’07

Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, BWV 1052
Concerto No. 2 in E Major, BWV 1053
Concerto No. 4 in A Major, BWV 1055
Concerto No. 5 in F Minor, BWV 1056

This is the first volume in a series of recordings of Bach’s harpsichord concertos from La Risonanza and Fabio Bonizzoni. La Risonanza play one-to-a-part with just two violins, viola, cello and violone. The pieces date from the 1730s and Bach’s time in Leipzig. He directed the Collegium musicum which gave weekly performances at the Café Zimmermann. We know that in 1733 a new harpsichord arrived and it seems this was the impetus for these concertos. Several of them draw from earlier material, the opening D Minor Concerto having a history going back about 20 years before the autograph copy used for this recording.

Continue reading

Bach: Wo soll ich fliehen hin

JS Bach: Wo soll ich fliehen hin
Cellini Consort
Ramée RAM1911. 65’44

This is a rather surprisingly successful recording of Bach keyboard works transcribed by the Cellini Consort for a trio of violas da gamba. Bach himself transcribed many instrumental pieces for keyboard, both his own and those of others: for example, his many harpsichord concertos arranged from Vivaldi. Indeed, several of Bach’s own pieces for viola da gamba are in fact rearrangements of his earlier pieces. But it is unusual to hear Bach keyboard pieces arranged for other instruments.

Continue reading

New William Drake organ at Chelsea Old Church

Celebrity Opening Concert – William Drake organ
Nathan Laube

Chelsea Old Church, 19 January 2020

Opening recitals on new organs raise several issues. The performance must, of course, be excellent in itself, regardless of the occasion. But the organ also needs to be demonstrated in a manner that future organ recitals do not need to. I have given several recitals (including, for example, at St John’s, Smith Square) where I have used little more than half of the available stops, to produce a sound that the composer might just recognise. But for an opening recital, a thorough exploration of the sounds of the new instrument is expected. If the organ is built in a specific historic style, the expectation may be that the music of that period dominates. But many organs are built in an eclectic style, capable, in theory, of coping with music from several different historical periods. Continue reading

CANCELLED. Happy Birthday, J S Bach!

Early Music Day
Saturday 21 March 2020

In light of the latest announcement by the UK Government, I am sadly having to cancel all of these concerts. Thank you to all have shown an interest, and particularly to the musicians who were lined up to perform. It is far to soon to think of when, or if, to re-schedule any of it, but Early Music Day next year is on Sunday 21 March.

All the concerts were to have been given in aid of the
Royal Society of Musicians
.

If you are willing to support this important musical charity, you can donate directly via this link https://www.rsmgb.org/fundraising/.  UK taxpayers can claim GiftAid. Please mention “Early Music Day” in the comments section of your donation.

Happy Birthday, J S Bach!

St Giles-in-the-Fields
St Giles High Street, London WC2H 8LG
(Close to Tottenham Court Road underground)

St Giles organ

Three informal 45′ afternoon Bach organ and solo instrument recitals
including organ chorales from Bach’s Leipzig manuscript.

4pm
Fantasia supra Komm, Heiliger Heist  BWV 651
Cello Suite No. 2 in D minor   BWV 1008
Prélude, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Menuetts, Gigue
O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig   BWV 656

5pm
Von Gott will ich nicht lassen   BWV 658
Nun komm’ der Heiden Heiland   BWV 659
Partita for solo flute   BWV 1013
Allemande, Corrente, Sarabande, Bourrée angloise
Jesus Christus, unser Heiland   BWV 665

6pm
Allein Gott in Der Hõh sei Ehr    BWV 662
Cello Suite No. 3 in C   BWV 1009
Prélude, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Bourrées, Gigue
Jesus Christus, unser Heiland   BWV 666
Komm, Gott, Schöpfer, Heiliger Geist   BWV 667

Special evening concert @ 7.30

AN EVENING WITH BACH

Featuring the historic St Giles-in-the-Fields organ,
with pipework dating back to Bach’s time, and solo Bach music for cello and violin.
(Free entry – donations welcomed for the Royal Society of Musicians).

The originally planned Art of Moog event had been cancelled earlier
because of the potentially high costs of a late cancellation. The Evening with Bach was a free replacement event. As it turns out, the whole church is now closed for the foreseeable future along, it seems with all CofE churches.

The organ in St Giles-in-the-Fields was originally built by George Dallam in 1678 with further work in 1699 by Christian Smith, nephew of ‘Father’ Smith. It was moved into a new organ case in the rebuilt St Giles church in 1734 by Gerard Smith the Younger. It was rebuilt in 1856 by Gray and Davison, then at the height of their fame. It was restored in 2006 by William Drake of Buckfastleigh, retaining material from 1678, 1699 and 1856. It is one of the most important historic organs in the UK. More details here.

Bach: Christmas Oratorio

Bach: Christmas Oratorio (Parts 1, 2, 3, 6)
The Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, Stephen Layton

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
St John’s, Smith Square, 22 December 2019

For many years now, the highlights of the London Christmas and Easter concert season has been the final two concerts of the St John’s, Smith Square Christmas/Easter festivals. One is usually Bach, the other Messiah, both directed by Stephen Layton, the first with his student Trinity College choir, the second with his professional vocal group Polyphony. In recent years both have been accompanied by the period instruments of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Both pairs of concerts sell out way in advance, the student choirs helping with audience numbers by rallying parents and friends. Continue reading

Vox Luminis: Dixit Dominus

Dixit Dominus
Vox Luminis, Lionel Meunier
St John’s, Smith Square, 18 December 2019

Attrib. Buxtehude? Magnificat BuxWV Anhang 1
Bach Nun komm der heiden Heiland BWV 61
Handel Dixit Dominus HWV 232

With the exception of Bach’s Advent cantata Nun komm der heiden Heiland, this was a St John’s, Smith Square Christmas Festival event refreshingly devoid of any specific reference to Christmas. The renown Belgian group Vox Luminis and their director, Lionel Meunier, made a very welcome return for a performance of music from German composers of the 17th and early 18th century, each writing in different styles and for different audiences. Continue reading

La Serenissima: The Godfather

The Godfather
Masters of the German & Italian Baroque
La Serenissima, Adrian Chandler
Signum Classics SIGCD602. 66’09

For long the undoubted champions of the music of Vivaldi, as their name suggests, La Serenissima are spreading their musical wings to explore the musical triumvirate of Telemann, Pisendel and JS Bach, all three closely connected, together with the composers Fasch, Vivaldi and Brescianello, who also had links with the principal trio. As La Serenissima note on their website, the links are that Pisendel was godfather to one of Telemann’s children; Telemann was godfather to CPE Bach;. JS Bach admired both Pisendel and Telemann and composed for the violinist Pisendel; Vivaldi helped Pisendel with his A minor concerto movement; Fasch was a friend of Pisendel and Telemann, and Pisendel played concertos by Brescianello, an Italian who helped to spread disseminate Italian instrumental music throughout the German-speaking lands. Continue reading

Bach: Violin Concertos

Bach: Violin Concertos
Kati Debretzeni (violin)

English Baroque Soloists, Sir John Eliot Gardiner
SDG732. 70’15

This recording has the makings of becoming an all-time favourite version of the Bach Violin Concertos. Quite apart from the exceptional playing by Kati Debretzeni, we get the bonus of two additional concertos. In addition to the well-known A minor and E major, (BWV 1041/1042) concertos, Kati gives us two others, the disputed D minor (BWV 1052) and the world premiere recording of her own arrangement of the E major harpsichord concerto (BMV 1053), transposed down to D. The detailed programme notes give full details of the rationale and implications of the two additional concertos, and their arrangements for violin. Continue reading