Bach: Solo Cantatas for Bass

JS Bach: Solo Cantatas for Bass
David Greco, Luthers Bach Ensemble, Tyman Jan Bronda
Brilliant Classics 95942. 49’36


Cantata BWV 82: Ich habe genug
Cantata BWV 158: Der Friede sei mit dir
Cantata BWV 56: Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen

These three cantatas for bass voice explore the Lutheran concept of a longing for death, relief from the torments of life, and a reuniting of the soul with God with an inevitable focus is on lamentation and consolation. They all date from the first decade of Bach’s time as Kapellmeister in Leipzig and are some of the most beautiful of all Bach’s cantatas. This example comes from the Australian baritone David Greco and the Luthers Bach Ensemble, directed by Tyman Jan Bronda. Continue reading

Tessarini: Violin & Trio Sonatas

Carlo Tessarini
6 Violin Sonatas Op.14 & 6 Trio Sonatas Op.9
Valerio Losito & Paolo Perrone, violins
Federico Del Sordo, harpsichord
Brilliant Classics, 95861. 2CDs 48’52+57’45

Sei sonate a violino ò flauto traversière e cembalo (Op.14 Venice, 1748)
6 Sonate da camera e chiesa a due violini e basso (Op.9 Paris, 1747)

Carlo Tessarini (1690-1767) is now a little-known Italian composer, but was famed in his day. He was born in Rimini and worked in Venice in the early part of his career, including such positions as violin master at the Ospedale dei Derelitti and a violinist in St. Mark’s. Some of his music was published without permission in London and Amsterdam, so he started publishing his own editions in 1729. Although later notionally attached to in the chapel of the Holy Sacrament in Urbino for some 30 years, he travelled around many regions of Italy as well as Paris and London before finally moving to Amsterdam for the last nine years of his life. Continue reading

Caccini: Le Nuove Musicale

Caccini: Le Nuove Musicale
Ricercare Antico, Riccardo Pisani
Brilliant Classics, 95794. 66’41

Giulio Caccini (1551-1618) was a Florentine singer, instrumentalist and writer. He was one of the first to establish the stile recitativo that formed the basis of Baroque-era opera. His Le Nuove Musicale (or Musiche) of 1602 explored the use of solo voice and continuo bass in what was to be referred to the following year (in Artusi’s 1603 Seconda Parte dell’Artusi), as the Seconda pratica. Caccini’s introduction to Le Nuove Musicale outlines the move from the Renaissance ideas of polyphony and counterpoint to the monodic style of the Baroque, with examples of the manner of adding ornaments to reflect the emotional expression of the text, in the affetto cantando style. Continue reading

Antegnati: 12 Ricercari

Antegnati: 12 Ricercari
Federico del Sordo, organ, harpsichord and clavichord
Brilliant Classics, 95628. 58’08

Cover Antegnati: 12 Ricercari

Costanzo Antegnati (1549-1624) is the best-known of a family of distinguished organ builders in Northern Italy that lasted from the early 15th to the late 17th-century. He worked with his father on the 1582 organ in San Giuseppe, Brescia, at one time, one of the most famous in the world. Costanzo was organist at the Brescia cathedral from 1584 to 1619. The most famous of his few surviving organs (from 1588) is in the church of St. Nicholas in Almenno San Salvatore, Bergamo. His 1595 treatise L’arte organica was republished in 1608 with these 12 Ricercars added to the technical details of 144 organs built by his family, information on organ tuning and advice on registration. Continue reading

Basso Ostinato

Basso Ostinato
Passacaglias & Chaconnes
Pieter-Jan Belder, harpsichord
Brilliant Classics,  95656. 77’58

Basso Ostinato - Pieter-Jan Belder

This is a collection of pieces recorded on the margins of other recording sessions from 2012 to 2017. Three harpsichord are used, all modern, after Giusti, Blanchet and Ruckers. All the pieces use an ostinato, or ground, bass. The Passacaglia comes from the Spanish phrase for walking down the street: passer la called. The Chaconne (or Ciaccona) originated in the New World, and was described by Alex Ross as having been a “sexily swirling dance”. Other forms are the English term Ground, used by Tomkins and Purcell, the Passamezzo, used in Picchi’s Pass’e Mezzo, an Italian folk dance based on two different chordal progressions. Continue reading

Bonporti: Sonatas Op.1 for 2 violins

Francesco Bonporti: Sonatas Op.1 for 2 violins and bc
Labirinti Armonici
Brilliant Classics 95966. 60’43

Francesco Antonio Bonporti (1672-1749) was born in Trento to a well-established family and remained there for much of his life. His family encouraged him into a career in the church, and those studies took him briefly to Innsbruck and then Rome, where he studied at the Collegium Germanicum from 1691-95. Whilst there, he studied music with the director of chapel music and came under the influence of Arcangelo Corelli. Bonporti’s Opera Prima: Suonate a Tre. Due violini, e violoncello obligate was published in 1696, just after his return to Trento from Rome. Continue reading

Gonzalo de Baena: Art de Tanger

Art de Tanger
Gonzalo de Baena’s New keyboard method (1540)
Bruno Forst, organ
Brilliant Classics 95618. 2CDs 61’21+73’55

Gonzalo de Baena (c1480-1540+) was a Castillian musician in the service of the King of Portugal. His Arte novamente inventada pera aprender a tãger (New method for learning to play) was printed under royal charter, but was never published. It was the first book of keyboard music printed on the Iberian Peninsula. Its discovery (by Alejandro Iglesias) was announced in 1992, having been previously incorrectly catalogued and titled in Madrid’s Biblioteca del Palacio Real. Continue reading

J S Bach: Harmonic Seasons

J S Bach: Harmonic Season
Manuel Tomadin
1737 Treutmann organ, Stiftskirche Grauhof bei Goslar, Germany
Brilliant Classics 95786. 79’471

The title of this recording reflects the way the 12 pieces are arranged, reflecting Bach’s own predilection for grouping pieces together in organised sets. In this case, the “Seasons” are indeed “Harmonic”. The four groups of pieces each start with a Prelude and Fugue or Fantasia, and the groups descend in key order through the “perfect, divine triad” from G to E to C, the first major, the subsequent two both in the minor key. The final tonal and harmonic resolution comes with the concluding C major Prelude and Fugue. Continue reading

Johannes de Lublin tabulature (c1540)

Johannes de Lublin tabulature (c1540)
Keyboard music from Renaissance Poland
Corina Marti, Renaissance harpsichord
Brilliant Classics, BRI95556. 74’25

Little is known about Johannes (or Joannis, Jan) de Lublin (or ‘z Lublina’) was a Polish organist and composer. He was a Canon of the monastery in Kraśnik, near Lublin and seems to have graduated from the University of Kraków and remained there as organist in the Marian Church. He moved to Kraśnik, near Lublin sometime before 1540, when the Tabvlatvra Ioannis de Lyvblyn Canonic. Reglariv de Crasnyk was bound. The music in the collection was gathered over some years, an contains a wide range of music, both sacred and secular. It was intended as a primer for organists, and contains important information about organ tuning and the principals of composing a piece around a plainchant melody, something all organists were expected to do. It is the largest known organ tablature with more than 350 compositions and a theoretical treatise. It follows in the tradition of earlier examples such as the Faenza Codex and the Buxheimer Organ Book from the previous century. Continue reading

Lacrime Amare: Bianca Maria Meda motets

Lacrime Amare
Bianca Maria Meda motets (1691)
Cappella Artemisia, Candace Smith
Brilliant Classics 95736. 79’04

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Jesu mi clementissime, Vibrate, Anime belle, O quante contra me, In foco ardentissime,
O lacrime amare, Volo vivere, No non tentate, Spirate vos zeffiri

This is potentially an important recording from Cappella Artemisia, an all-female choir and orchestra, founded in 1991 by Candace Smith, a Californian long resident in Italy. Little is known of Bianca Maria Meda. She was born around 1665 and died around 1700 and was a Benedictine nun in San Martino del Leano Pavia. Her only published work is the Mottetti a 1, 2, 3, e 4 voci, con violini (Bologna, 1691). Judging by the quality of the nine examples on this recording, she was a very accomplished composer. Cappella Artemisia is an all-female choir and orchestra who specialise in music composed in, and for, 16/17th-century Italian convents. It founded in 1991 by Candace Smith, a Californian long resident in Italy.  Continue reading

Bruhns: Complete Cantatas

Bruhns: Complete Cantatas
Harmonices Mundi
Brilliant Classics 95138. 75’47+63’19

Bruhns - Complete Cantatas | Brilliant Classics 95138BRNicolaus Bruhns (1665-1697) is one of the most important organist/composers of the North German 17th century Baroque: that extraordinary outpouring of music that over the whole century developed and honed a distinctive style that the likes of Handel and Bach carried forward into the 18th century. The favourite pupil of the famed Lübeck organist, Dietrich Buxtehude, Bruhns came from a family of musicians. He came from Husem, then part of Denmark, but his family had strong musical connections with Lübeck. After a time in Copenhagen, Bruhns returned to Husem as city organist, where he remained until his untimely death, aged just 31.

Only 12 vocal works and 5 organ pieces survive, but all are of an exceptionally high standard, technically and musically. All 12 of his Continue reading

Zipoli: complete keyboard music

Zipoli: complete keyboard music
Carlo Guandalino, organ, Laura Farabollini, harpsichord
Brilliant Classics. 95212. 2 CDs. 76’10 + 72’20

Zipoli - Complete Keyboard Music | Brilliant Classics 95212BRDomenico Zipoli is often seen as a rather insubstantial composer compared to his contemporaries, his surviving organ pieces being generally short and sometimes rather light pieces intended for use in the Catholic service. Although his harpsichord suites were not constrained by such circumstances, they are also attractive, rather than emotionally intense, works. This double CD, one each devoted to organ and harpsichord, present his complete keyboard works and might help to put Zipoli in a better light. They were published in two volumes of Zipoli’s 1716 Sonata d’intavolatura per organo e cimbalo while he was organist of the Jesuit church in Rome.  Shortly afterwards, he moved to Seville en route to Paraguary but, after an eventful voyage, ended up in Continue reading

Telemann: Suites and concertos for recorder

Telemann: Suites and concertos for recorder
Erik Bosgraaf, Ensemble Cordevento
Brilliant Classics 95248. 75’46

Suite in E-flat, TWV 55:Es2; Suite in A minor, TWV 55:a2;
Concerto in F, TWV 51:F1; Concerto in C, TWV 51:C1.

Telemann: Complete Suites and Concertos for RecorderTelemann taught himself to play the recorder, violin and zither before the age of 10, and continued to practice the recorder well into his teens – something very few youngsters do today. He seems to have retained a love for the recorder, judging by the number of pieces he wrote for it, including these Suites and Concertos. Incidentally, the two Suites are both titled Ouverture in their manuscripts, and are examples of Telemann’s so-called concert en ouverture style of composition, which combines elements of the traditional suite with the overture. Apart from the E-flat suite (which is intended for the flute pastorelle, which perhaps means the panpipes), all the music is from the same manuscript surviving in the Hesse Court library in Darmstadt, suggesting that they were composed for Michael Böhm, Telemann’s brother-in-law and a virtuoso woodwind player. They are all written for alto recorder.

Both types of piece reflect Telemann’s cross-cultural inspiration, taking bits of French and Italian style with a dollop of the inevitable Polish influence. Continue reading