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  • A guide to Vaughan Williams's Symphony No. 9

    classical-music.com | Wed, 17 Jul 2019 09:00:00 +0000

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    The finale to Vaughan Williams’s life returns at times to the pastoral, but in darker, dramatic moments, reflects the trauma of his wartime experiences. 

     

    Composed: 1956-7
    Premiere: 2 April, 1958, Royal Festival Hall, London, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Malcolm Sargent

    Vaughan Williams was 83 when he began the Ninth, which shows the composer to have been still at the height of his powers. He was also working on the cantata Epithalamion, he later wrote the Ten Blake Songs and began a three-act opera, Thomas the Rhymer. In another 1957 work, Variations for Brass Band, he was much taken with the flugelhorn, which he included in the score of the symphony together with three saxophones. He described it as a ‘beautiful and neglected instrument not usually allowed in the select circles of the orchestra, and banished to the brass band, where it is allowed to indulge in the bad habit of vibrato to its heart’s content. While in the orchestra it will be obliged to sit up and play straight’. The saxophones and flugelhorn impart a special dark tone-colour to the score. 

     

     

    Influences

    Another contributory factor, as it had been in the Eighth Symphony, was Bach's St Matthew Passion, which he conducted every year at the Leith Hill Music Festival in Dorking. The principal subject of the first movement, first heard on trombones and tuba, occurred to him after playing some of the organ part of the opening of the Passion.

    Another important starting point for the Ninth was the idea of a symphony about Salisbury and Hardy’s Wessex, particularly the association with Tess of the D’Urbervilles and her arrest at Stonehenge for murdering her seducer. Although this programme was abandoned, it did not disappear entirely.

    The second movement in particular is the Stonehenge scene. But Vaughan Williams moved away from a literal depiction of Hardy’s idea of the gods killing Tess for sport to a wider consideration of sacrifice generally. His experiences in WWI seemed again to be haunting him. He had seen another world war since then, and the near-hopelessness of the human condition must have troubled such a sensitive artist, whose humanity is the focal point of his work.

     

     

    The Ninth's Style 

    Vaughan Williams was not a believer in a religious sense, but he believed in the human spirit. The mood of the Ninth Symphony is ambiguous and enigmatic. It is on an ample scale, it looks back and it looks forward. One of its themes is derived from an early and abandoned tone poem and it also occurs as the ‘limitless heaving breast’ of A Sea Symphony. Clearly it had some special significance for him. The work contains wistful pastoral episodes, but there is savagery too, and a darkness that has been interpreted as pessimism.

    It seems more likely that Vaughan Williams feared the worst for mankind but hoped against hope for the best. He loved Arnold’s poem Thyrsis and could easily have prefaced this finale with the words: ‘The light we sought is shining still’ – dimly, perhaps. When the Ninth was first performed, many failed to recognise it as one of his deepest and finest works. After 50 years, that has changed.

     

    Reception and Death 

    On August 25, 1958, during the night before he was to attend Sir Adrian Boult’s recording sessions of the Ninth, Ralph Vaughan Williams died suddenly and peacefully from a coronary thrombosis. His ashes were interred in Westminster Abbey near to Purcell and Stanford. 

    Symphony No. 9, dedicated to the Royal Philharmonic Society and arguably the hardest of the symphonies, was first played through on 21 March, 1958, after which Vaughan Williams cut and revised the finale. Asked for his reaction to the cool critical reception, he replied: ‘I don’t think they can quite forgive me for still being able to do it at my age.’

     

    Recommended Recording:
    Leopold Stokowski & His Symphony Orchestra
    Cala CACD 0539

     

  • Free Download: Jonathan Biss performs Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 8

    classical-music.com | Tue, 16 Jul 2019 09:00:00 +0000

    'Rarely is pianistic virtuosity put to the service of such refined artistry'

    This week’s free download is the first movement, Grave, from Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 8 ‘Pathétique’, performed by Jonathan Biss. It was recorded on JB Recordings and was the Instrumental Choice in the June issue of BBC Music Magazine.

    DOWNLOAD INSTRUCTIONS:

    If you'd like to enjoy our free weekly download simply log in or sign up to our website.

    Once you've done that, return to this page and you'll be able to see a 'Download Now' button on the picture above – simply click on it to download your free track.

    If you experience any technical problems please email support@classical-music.com. Please reference 'Classical Music Free Download', and include details of the system you are using and your location. If you are unsure of what details to include please take a screenshot of this page.

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  • Discover James MacMillan

    classical-music.com | Mon, 15 Jul 2019 23:00:00 +0000

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    One of the UK's most prolific and prominent composers, Sir James MacMillan's creative voice spans all genres. Though, perhaps, most keenly associated with choral works, his vast writing output also includes chamber works and symphonies.

     

     

    His fifth symphony will be premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival in August, where his life and music will be celebrated during a week of events to mark his 60th birthday (16 July).

    Don't forget to tune into Radio 3 throughout the week (15-19 July) as James is 'Composer of the Week'.

    If you'd like to discover some of his music, why not have a listen to our playlist below? And look out for two new books: A Scot's Song by the man himself (Birlinn 978-1-780-27617-5, £7.99) and The Music of James MacMillan by Philip A. Cooke (Boydell Press 978-1-783-27370-6, £30).

     

     

     

     

  • The BBC Music Magazine Playlist

    classical-music.com | Mon, 15 Jul 2019 12:12:49 +0000

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    Every Monday, the BBC Music Magazine team choose their favourite new recordings of the past week. The tracks are compiled into The Playlist, which can be accessed via the BBC Music Magazine Spotify page. An alternative version of The Playlist can be found on the BBC Music Magazine curator page on Apple Music.

     

    This week's playlist:

     

    The listings for previous playlists are featured below.

     

     

    Vol. 28

    Qigang Chen The Joy of Suffering: IV. Thrilled by illusions (Maxim Vengerov, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra/Long Yu

    David Robertson Movement I. St Louis to New Orleans (Wynton Marsalis, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra/David Robertson)

    Geminiani Concerto per flauto in G: I. Preludio. Adagio (Maurice Steger, La Cetra)

    James MacMillan Cecilia virgo (The Elysian Singers/Sam Laughton)

    Chopin Nocturne No. 20 in C-sharp minor (Charles Richard-Hamelin, Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal/Kent Nagano 

    Striggio Ecce Beatam Lucem à 40 (Armonico Consort, Choir of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge/Christopher Monks)

    Weinberg Symphony No. 21 ‘Kaddish’: II. Allegro molto (City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra/Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla)

    Wagner Siegfried: Siegfried’s Horn Call (Ben Goldscheider, Hallé/Mark Elder)

    Monteverdi Vespers of 1610: Deus in adiutorium meum intende (The Sixteen/Harry Christophers)

    Sibelius Lemminkäinen Suite ‘4 Legends: IV. Lemminkäinen’s Return (BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sakari Oramo)

     

    Vol. 27

    Jón Leifs Edda Pt. 2 Op. 42 ‘The Lives of the Gods’: VI. Warriors (Schola Cantorum Reykjavicensis, Iceland Symphony Orchestra/Hermann Bäumer)

    Philip Glass Perpetulum: Part 1 (Third Coast Percussion)

    Richard Strauss Violin Concerto: III. Rondo (Tasmin Little, BBC Symphony Orchestra/Michael Collins)

    Jolivet Serenade for Wind Quintet: II. Caprice (Jolivet, Les Vents Français)

    Beethoven Cello Sonata in F Op. 17: I. Allegro moderato (Leonard Elschenbroich, Alexei Grynyuk)

    Mendelssohn Piano Concerto No. 2: III. Finale (Kristian Bezuidenhout, Freiburger Barockorchester/Pablo Heras-Casado)

    Corelli Violin Sonata in D minor, Op. 5 No. 7 (arr. for harpsichord): III. Sarabande (Sophie Yates)

    Richard Rodney Bennett Symphony No. 1: III. Molto vivace (BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/John Wilson)

    Fauré Piano Quartet No. 1 in C minor, Op. 15: III. Adagio (Evgeny Kissin, Emerson String Quartet)

    Eric Vloiemans Crazy Witches (Calefax Reed Quintet)

    Rachmaninov 13 Préludes, Op. 32: No. 5 in G. Moderato (Boris Giltburg)

     

    Vol. 26

    Jonathan Dove Seek Him That Maketh the Seven Stars (Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge/Andrew Nethsingha)

    Glière Horn Concerto: III. Moderato (Markus Maskuniitty, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra/Sakari Oramo)

    Porpora David e Bersabea: Dolce è su queste alte mie logge a sera (Giueseppina Bridelli, Le Concert de l’Hostel Dieu/Franck-Emmanuel Comte)

    Haydn Die Sieben letzten Worte unseres Erlösers am Kreuze, Hob. XX: I. Introduzione. Maestoso ed adagio (Ensemble Resonanz/Riccardo Minasi)

    Hindemith Violin Sonata Op. 11 No. 1: I. Frisch (Roman Mints, Alexander Kobrin)

    Schubert Rosamunde Op. 26: IIIa. Entr’acte No. 2 (Andante) (Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra/Lawrence Foster)

    Robert Schumann Liederkreis Op. 39: V. Mondnacht (arr. Clara Schumann) (Isata Kanneh-Mason)

    Debussy Préludes, Book 1: No. 8 La fille aux cheveux de lin (Lisa Friend, Rohan de Silva)

    Beethoven Triple Concerto: II. Largo (Laurence Equilbey, Alexandra Conunova, David Kadouch, Natalie Clein, Insula Orchestra)

    Clara Schumann 3 Romances, Op. 11: II. Andante – Allegro passionate – Andante (Eric Le Sage)

     

    Vol. 25

    Duruflé Messe ‘Cum Jubilo’ pour choeur de barytons et orgue, Op. 11: II. Gloria (Ken Cowan, Houston Chamber Choir/Robert Simpson)

    Mahler Symphony No. 10 (arr. Castelletti for chamber orchestra): II. Sherzo (Lapland Symphony Orchestra/John Storgårds)

    Brahms Piano Quartet No. 1: II. Intermezzo (Skride Piano Quartet)

    Tavener The Protecting Veil: I. The Protecting Veil (Matthew Barley, Sinfonietta Riga/Sukhvinder Singh Pinky)

    Gibbons The Silver Swan (Apollo5)

    Victoria Bond Instruments of Revelation: III. The Fool (Chicago Pro musica)

    Schumann Dichterliebe: VII. Ich grolle nicht (Stella Doufexis, Daniel Heide)

    Annie Lennox (Hesperiidae) (Annie Lennox)

     

    Vol. 24

    Offenbach Madame Favart: Overture (Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester Frankfurt/Howard Griffiths)

    JS Bach Cello Suite No. 4 in E-flat: V. Bourée (trans. Rachel Podger for violin) (Rachel Podger)

    Björk Vespertine: Aurora (Live) (Women’s Choir of Nationaltheater Mannheim, Orchestra of Nationaltheater Mannheim)

    Gershwin Lullaby for String Quartet (Chiaroscuro)

    John Williams Hedwig’s Theme – from ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Anne-Sophie Mutter, The Recording Arts Orchestra of Los Angeles)

    Khachaturian Cello Concerto: III. Allegro battula (Torleif Thedéen, Staatsorchester Rheinische Philharmonie/Daniel Raiskin)

    Debussy Chansons de Bilitis, L. 90: No. 1, La flute de Pan (Carolyn Sampson, Joseph Middleton)

    Weber Clarinet Concerto No. 1: II. Adagio ma non troppo (Andreas Ottensamer, Yuja Wang, Berlin Philharmonic/Mariss Jansons)

    Daniel Tarrab Prelude (Nester Marconi, Pablo Agri, Daniel Tarrab, Orquesta Filarmonica Nacional)

     

     

    Vol. 23

    Svante Henryson Black Run (Andrei Ionita)

    Schubert 4 Impromptus: No. 1 in C minor (Khatia Buniatishvili)

    Donizetti L’Ange de Nisida, Act 1: ‘Et vous Mesdames’ (Orchestra of the Royal Opera House/Mark Elder)

    Beethoven Symphony No. 3 ‘Eroica’: II. Marcia funebre (London Philharmonic/Kurt Masur

    Richard Strauss Malven, TrV 297 (Arr. Rihm) (Lise Davidsen, Philharmonia Orchestra/Esa-Pekka Salonen)

    Gounod Symphony No. 2: III. Scherzo (Iceland Symphony Orchestra/Yan Pascal Tortelier)

    Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 22: I. In tempo d’un menuetto (Jonathan Biss)

    Weinberg Capriccio Op. 11 (Quatuor Capriccio)

    Ives Piano Sonata No. 1: IVb. Allegro – Presto (Tamara Stefanovich)

    Prokofiev Cello Sonata in C Op. 119: II. Moderato – Andante dolce (Mstislav Rostropovich) 

    JS Bach Fuge G-Moll BWV 578 (Olivier Latry)

    Beethoven String Quartet No. 10: III. Presto (Cuarteto Casals)

    Howells Lady Audrey’s Suite, Op. 19: I. The Four Sleepy Golliwogs’ Dance (Dante Quartet)

     

    Vol. 22

    JS Bach Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C minor: I. Allegro (Isabelle Faust, Xenia Löffler, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin/Bernhard Forck)

    Messiaen Preludes for Piano: VII. Plainte calme (Alexandra Dariescu)

    Purcell Hear My Prayer, O Lord (Gabrieli Consort/Paul McCreesh)

    Mahler Symphony No. 7: III. Scherzo, Schattenhaft (Budapest Festival Orchestra/Iván Fischer)

    Arensky Piano Trio No. 1: III. Elegia (Smetana Trio)
    Brad Mehldau The Garden

    Stravinsky Le Sacre du Printemps, Pt 1: L’Adoration de la Terre: Rondes printanières (New York Philharmonic/Jaap van Zweden)

    Elgar Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36, ‘Enigma’: XIV. Finale: Allegro Presto ‘E.D.U’ (Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko)

    Massanet Le Poète et la Fantôme (Sandrine Piau, Le Concert de la Loge/Julien Chauvin)

    Esa-Pekka Salonen Cello Concerto: III. (Yo-Yo Ma, Los Angeles Philharmonic/Esa-Pekka Salonen)

    Britten 3 Divertimenti: II. Waltz. Allegretto (Doric String Quartet)

     

    Vol. 21

    Gesualdo O vos omnes (Monteverdi Choir/John Eliot Gardiner)

    William Alwyn 3 Winter Poems: No. 1, Winter Landscape (Tippett Quartet)

    JS Bach Cello Suite No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1008 (Transcribed by Rachel Podger for violin) (Rachel Podger)

    Prokofiev Piano Sonata No. 7 in B-flat: I. Allegro inquieto – Andantino (Martin James Bartlett)

    Shostakovich Symphony No. 7 ‘Leningrad’: II. Moderato (poco allegretto) (Live at Symphony Hall, Boston) (Boston Symphony Orchestra/Andris Nelsons)

    John Sheppard Missa Cantate: Gloria (The Sixteen/Harry Christophers)

    Busoni Piano Concerto: II. Pezzo giocoso (Live) (Kirill Gerstein, Boston Symphony Orchestra/Sakari Oramo)

    JS Bach The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1: Fugue No. 15 in G (Steven Devine)

    Kaija Saariaho Petals (Wilhemina Smith, Kaija Saariaho)

    Mozart Piano Sonata No. 13 in B-flat ‘Linz’: I. Allegro (Lars Vogt)

     

    Vol. 20

    James MacMillan Saxophone Concerto: III. Jigs (Amy Dickson, Adelaide Symphony Orchetra/Nicholas Carter)

    Steve Reich Clapping Music (Live (Colin Currie, Steve Reich)

    Stravinsky Three Movements from Petrushka: II. Petrushka’s Room (Alexander Ullman)

    Raaf Hekkema Dido’s Lament (Eric Vloeimans, Calefax Reed Quintet, Jasper van Hulten, Gulli Gudmundsson)

    Gabriel Jackson The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ: II. Anointing at Bethany (Emma Tring, Choir of Merton College, Oxford, Oxford Contemporary Sinfonia/Benjamin Nicholas)

    Poulenc Flute Sonata (arr. for flute and organ): I. Allegretto malincolico (Erica Nygård, Niels Burgmann)

    Roxanna Panufnik Love Abide – I. Love is the Master (Colla Voce Singers, London Mozart Players)

    Niels Rosing-Schow #ViolaSounds (Rafael Altino)

    Eric Whitacre Sainte-Chapelle (The Sixteen/Harry Christophers)

    Couperin Pièces de viole, deuxième Suite: III. La Pompoe funèbre (Christophe Rousset, Atsushi Sakaï, Marion Martineau)

     

    Vol. 19

    Mendelssohn Piano Concerto No. 2: III. Finale. Presto scherzando (Kristian Bezuidenhout, Freiburger Braockorchester/Pablo Heras-Casado

    Mahler Symphony No. 3: Part II, No. 5. Lustig im Tempo und keck im Ausdruck (Sara Mingardo, Gürzenich-Orchester Köln/François-Xavier Roth)

    Bach BWV 974 – II Adagio (Rework) (Víkingur Ólafsson, Ryuichi Sakatmoto)

    Bach Violin Concerto in D minor, BWV 1052R: III. Allegro (Isabelle Faust, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin/Bernhard Forck)

    Bruckner Locus iste (Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge/Andrew Nethsingha)

    Mozart Symphony No. 40 in G minor: I. Molto allegro (Live) (NDR Radiophilharmonie/Andrew Manze)

    Myaskovsky Cello Sonata No. 1 in D, Op. 12: I. Adagio – Andante (Bruno Philippe, Jérôme Ducros)

    Falla La vida breve, Act 1: Ah, ande la tarea, que hay que trabajar! (Gustavo Pena, Cristina Faus, Spanish Radio and Television Chorus, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra/Juanjo Mena)

    Victoria Alma redemptoris mater (I Fagiolini/Robert Hollingworth)

    John Harle RANT! (Jess Gillam, BBC Concert Orchestra/Jessica Cottis)

     

    Vol. 18

    John Williams The Raiders March (from ‘Raiders of The Lost Ark’) (Los Angeles Philharmonic/Gustavo Dudamel)

    Robert Schumann Adagio and Allegro, Op. 70 (Richard Watkins, Julius Drake)

    Edmund Finnis The Air, Turning (BBS Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Ilan Volkov

    Will Todd Songs of Renewal: I. Me renovare (Bath Camerata, Benjamin Goodson

    Rachmaninov String Quratet No. 1: I. Romance (Orava Quartet)

    Richard Barbieri Vibra (Richard Barbieri)

    Offenbach Les Bavards, Acte I Scène 3: Air d’Inès ‘Ce sont d’étranges personnages’ (Jodie Devos, Münchner Rundfunkorchester/Laurent Campellone)

    Caroline Shaw Plan & Elevation: IV. The Orangery (Attacca Quartet)

    JS Bach Oboe Concerto in D minor (Performed on Recorder): I. Allegro (Lucie Horsch, The Academy of Ancient Music/Bojan Cicic)

    Berlioz L’Enfance du Christ, Pt. 3 ‘L’arrivée à Saïs’: Trio des Ismaélites (Prudence Davis, Sarah Beggs, Yinuo Mu, Andrew Davis)

    Henry Cowell Banshee (Wilhem Latchoumia)

     

    Vol. 17

    Sibelius Symphony No. 1: III. Scherzo (Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra/Santtu-Matias Rouvali)

    Brahms Die schöne Magelone: Traun! Bogen und Pfeil sind gut für den Feind (John Chest, Marcelo Amaral)

    Danny Elfman Violin Concerto ‘Eleven Eleven’: III. Fantasma (John Mauceri, Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Sandy Cameron)

    Verdi Macbeth: Patria oppressa! (Live) (Chicago Symphony Chorus, Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Riccardo Muti)

    Camus Airs, à deux et trois parties: Laissez durer la nuit, impatiente Aurore (Anna Reinhold, Les Arts Florissants/William Christie)

    Schubert Piano Sonata in B, III. Scherzo Allegretto (Paul Lewis)

    Britten Five Flower Songs: IV. The Evening Primrose (RIAS Kammerchor/Justin Doyle)

    Schumann Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor ‘Concerto Without Orchestra’: IV. Prestissimo possibilie (Jean-Efflam Bavouzet)

    Rameau Hippolyte et Aricie: ‘Espoir, unique bien…’ (Karine Deshayes, Le Concert Spirituel/Hervé Niquet)

    Janáček String Quartet No. 2 ‘Intimate Letters’: I. Andante (Wihan Quartet)

    Lutosławski Partita: V. Presto (Maksim Štšura, Michael Foyle)

     

    Vol. 16

    Handel Concerto Grosso for Oboe and Strings in D minor: V. Allegro (Le Consort, Marta Paramo, Emilia Gliozzi, Johanne Maitre)

    Michael Nyman The Diary of Anne Frank (arr. Richard Boothby): If (Iestyn Davies, Fretwork)

    Reger Piano Concerto, Op. 114: III. Allegretto con spirito (Markus Becker, NDR Radiophilharmonie/ Joshua Weilerstein)

    Gabriel Jackson The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ: VI. Crucifixion (Emma Tring, Guy Cutting, Choir of Merton College, Oxford)

    Karl Jenkins The Armed Man – A Mass for Peace: XII. Benedictus (Karl Jenkins)

    Liszt Sardanapalo: Sotto il tuo sguardo (Joyce El-Khoury, Airam Hernández, Staatskapelle Weimar/Kirill Karabits)

    Musorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition: No. 10, The Great Gate of Kiev (London Symphony Orchestra/Gianandrea Noseda)

    Bruno Sanfilippo Doll (Bruno Sanfilippo)

    Liszt Ständchen (transc. From Schubert’s Schwanengesang No. 4) (Khatia Buniatishvili)

    John Williams The Imperial March (from Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back) (Los Angeles Philharmonic/Gustavo Dudamel)

     

    Vol. 15

    Florence Price Symphony No. 1: IV. Finale (Fort Smith Symphony/John Jeter)

    Chopin Mazurka in B, Op. 56 No. 1 (Maurizio Pollini)

    Berlioz Le Carnaval Romain: Overture (Detroit Symphony Orchestra/Paul Paray)

    Reinecke Cello Sonata No. 1: III. Finale. Allegro molto ed appassionato (Martin Rummel, Roland Kruger)

    Mozart Piano Sonata No. 2: III. Presto (Peter Donohoe)

    Nils Frahm Sweet Little Lie (Nils Frahm)

    JS Bach Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C minor: I. Allegro (Isabelle Faust, Xenia Löffler, Bernhard Forck, Academy for Ancient Music)

    Zemlinsky Clarinet Trio in D minor (Version for Violin Cello & Piano): III. Allegro (Stefan Zweig Trio)

    Jean Français Imromptu for Flute and Strings: III. Scherzando (Ransom Wilson, BBC Concert Orchestra/Perry So)

    Robert Schumann Phantasiestücke, Op. 88: II. Humoreske. Lebhaft (Live) (Gautier Capuçon, Martha Argerich, Renaud Capuçon)

    Max Bruch Die Loreley, Op. 16, Act I: Ave Maria! (Michaela Kaune, Philharmonischer Chor Prag, Müncher Rundfunkorchester/Stefan Blunier)

    Anon Ther is No Rose of Swych Virtu (The Telling)

     

    Vol. 14

    Mozart Symphony No. 13: I. Allegro (Folkwang Kammerorchester Essen/Johannes Klumpp)

    Roxanna Panufnik The Sweet Spring (Blossom Street, Annabel Thwaite, Hilary Campbell)

    Robert Schumann Cello Concerto: III. Sehr lebhaft (Live) (Gautier Capuçon, Chamber Orchestra of Europe/Bernard Haitink)

    Weber Piano Sonata No. 2 in A-flat: II. Andante. Ben tenuto (Paul Lewis)

    Janáček String Quartet No. 2 ‘Intimate Letters’: II. Adagio – Vivace (Wihan Quartet)

    Sibelius Symphony No. 3: III. Moderato – Allegro (ma non tanto) (Orchestre de Paris/Paavo Järvi)

    André Campra Achille et Déidamie: ‘Timbales et trompettes’ (Le Concert Spirituel/Hervé Niquet)

    Corelli Concerto grosso in F: IV. Allegro (Marco Scorticati, Estro cromatico/Sara Campobasso)

    Trio Tapestry Sparkle Lights (Joe Lovano, Marilyn Crispell, Carmen Castaldi)

     

    Vol. 13

    Berlioz Symphonie fantastique: II. Un Bal (Transcribed for piano duet) (Jean-François Heisser, Marie-Josèphe Jude)

    Schubert Octet in F, III. Allegro vivace – Trio (OSM Chamber Soloists)

    Schumann Three Romances: I. Nicht Schnell (Stephen Waarts, Gabriele Carcano)

    Bernstein Mass: No. 2, Hymn & Psalm. A Simple Song (Arr. for voice, flute, electric guitar, harp and organ) (Anne Sofie von Otter, Sharon Bezaly, Fabian Fredriksson, Margareta Nilsson, Bengt Forsberg)

    Juan Crisostomo de Arriaga Médée: Hymen, viens dissiper une vaine frayeur (Berit Norbakken Solset, BBC Philharmonic/Juanjo Mena)

    Rzewski Four North American Ballads: No. 1, Dreadful Memories (After Aunt Molly Jackson) (Adam Swayne)

    Johannes Ciconia O rosa bella, o dolce anima mia (The Telling)

    Liszt Sardanapalo: Vieni! Risplendono festive faci (Damen des Opernchores des Deutschen Nationaltheaters Weimar, Staatskapelle Weimar/Kirill Karabits)

    Florence Price Symphony No. 4: IV. Scherzo (Fort Smith Symphony/John Jeter)

    Hoffmeister Double Bass Quartet No. 3 in D: I. Moderato (Niek De Groot, Minna Pensola, Antti Tikkanen, Tuomas Lehto)

     

     

    Vol. 12

    Mendelssohn Piano Concerto No. 2: III. Finale. Presto scherzando (Ronald Brautigam, Die Kölner Akademie/Michael Alexander Willens)

    Haydn Concerto per il Corno da caccia in D: I. Allegro (Premysl Vojta, Martin Petrák, Haydn Ensemble Prague)

    Dvořák Symphony No. 9 ‘From the New World’: III. Molto vivace (Bamberg Symphony Orchestra/Jakub Hrusa)

    Vivaldi Tito Manlio: ‘Combatta un gentil cor’ (Cecilia Bartoli, Serge Tizac, Ensemble Matheus/Jean-Christophe Spinosi)

    Giuseppe Sammartini Recorder Concerto in F: II. Siciliano (Lucie Horsch, The Academy of Ancient Music/Bojan Cicic)

    CPE Bach Solo in G: II. Allegro (Anaïs Gaudemard)

    Robert O’Dwyer Act I Scene I: An tráth a mbíonn an spéir fá scáil (Imelda Drumm, Irish National Opera Chorus, RTE National Symphony Orchestra/Fergus Sheil)

    Ami Maayani Toccata (Elisa Netzer)

    Tchaikovsky Swan Lake: Act III. No. 17 Scène: Entrée des invites (Fanfares) et la valse (Allegro) (London Symphony Orchestra/Anatole Fistoulari)

     

    Vol. 11

    Piazzolla Tango para una ciudad (Quinteto Astor Piazzolla)

    Schumann Cello Concerto in A minor: II. Langsam (Sol Gabetta, Kammerorcheser Basel/Giovanni Antonini)

    Schumann Zwölf Gedichte, Op. 35 No. 5, Sehnsucht nach der Waldgegend (Christian Gerhaher, Gerold Huber)

    Bruch Concerto for Clarinet and Viola in E minor: III. Allegro molto (Dimitri Ashkenazy, Anton Kholodenko, Royal Baltic Festival Orchestra/Mats Liljefors)

    Schoenberg Drei Klavierstücke Op. 11 No. 1: ‘Mässige Virtel’ (Jeremy Denk)

    Verdi et al. Messa per Rossini: 11. Agnus Dei (Veronica Simeoni, Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano/Riccardo Chailly)

    Ethel Smyth Violin Sonata in A minor: IV. Finale. Allegro vivace (Tasmin Little, John Lenehan)

    Berlioz Harold en Italie: 3. Sérénade d’un montagnard des Abbruzes à sa maîtresse (Tabea Zimmermann, Les Siècles/François-Xavier Roth)

    Xenakis Pléïades: IV. Mélanges (DeciBells, Domenico Melchiorre)

    Schubert Symphony No. 3: IV. Presto vivace (City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra/Edward Gardner)

     

     

    Vol. 10 

    Vivaldi Il Giustino, Act II: Scene 1. Sento in seno ch’in pioggia di lagrime (Anastasio) (Accademia Bizantina, Ottavio Dantone, Silke Gäng)

    Gulda Concerto for Cello, Wind Orchestra and Band: I. Overture (Edgar Moreau, Raphaël Merlin, Les Forces Majeures)

    Roxanna Panufnik Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis: I. Magnificat (Richard Johnson, Exultate Singers/David Ogden)

    Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4: IV. Finale (London Symphony Orchestra/Gianandrea Noseda)

    Weber Piano Sonata No. 2: III. Menuetto capriccioso. Presto assai (Paul Lewis)

    Francis Lai Love Story – Theme (Arr. Campbell) (Jess Gillam, BBC Concert Orchestra/Ben Dawson)

    Berlioz Harold in Italy: II. Marche de pèlerins chantant la prière du soir (Tabea Zimmermann, Les Siècles/François-Xavier Roth)

    Arthur Lourié A Phoenix Park Nocturne (Vladimir Feltsman)

    Ramin Djawadi The Rains of Castamere (Arr. Lawson) (VOCES8)

    Philip Glass Etude No. 2 (Jeremy Denk)

    Tallis Suscipe quaeso Domine (prima pars) (The Gentlemen of HM Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace/Carl Jackson)

    Debussy Livre I: II. Pour les tierces (Roger Muraro)

     

     

    Vol. 9

    Rachmaninov Prelude in G minor, Op. 23 No. 5 (Live at Philharmonie, Berlin) (Yuja Wang)

    Stravinsky The Firebird: Tableau II, XIX: Disparition du palais et des sortilèges de Kastchei, animation des chevaliers petrifies. Allegresse génerale (Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko

    Amy Beach Violin Sonata in A minor, Op. 34: II. Scherzo. Molto vivace (Tasmin Little, John Lenehan)

    Hauscha Dew and Spiderwebs (Hauschka)

    Frank Horvat The Thailand HRDs: No. 5, Boonsom Nimnoi (Mivos Quartet)

    Trad. Deep River (Arr. Coleridge-Taylor, Kanneh-Mason) (Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Isata Kanneh-Mason, Braimah Kanneh-Mason)

    Mendelssohn Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 19: No. 6 in G minor (Andante sostenuto) ‘Venetian Gondola Song’ (Jan Lisiecki)

    Wim Henderickx Nostalgia (Boho Strings)

    Mozart Così fan tutte, Act 1: Aria ‘Come scoglio’ (Héloise Mas, Alexander Sprague, Nazan Fikret, Francesco Vultaggio, European Opera Centre, Biagio Pizzuti, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Laurent Pillot)

    Philip Glass Melodies for Saxophone (arr. for trumpet): No. 3 (Craig Morris)

    Giovanni Paisiello Partimento in F minor (Nicoleta Paraschievescu)

    Ramin Djawadi The Rains of Castamere (VOCES8)

    Triumphal Parade (Scottish National Jazz Orchestra/Tommy Smith)

     

    Vol. 8

    Josquin Des Prez Miserere mei, Deus, IJ. 50: I. Miserere mei, Deus (Cappella Amsterdam/Daniel Reuss)

    Scriabin Sonata N. 10, Op. 70 (James Kreiling)

    Kaija Saariaho Cloud Trio: I. Calmo, meditato (Jennifer Koh, Hsin Yun Huang, Wilhelmina Smith)

    Dowland Flow, my tears (Stile Antico)

    JS Bach Keyboard Partita in D, BWV 828: VII. Gigue (Federico Colli)

    Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 2, III. Allegro ben marcato (Joseph Swensen, Scottish Chamber Orchestra)

    Bellini Norma: Casta Diva… Fine al rito (Orchestra E Coro Del Teatro Massimo Di Palermo, Jader Bignamini, Marina Rebeka)

    Lyatoshinsky Symphony No. 3 ‘To the 25th Anniversary of the October Revolution’: III. Allegro feroce (Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Kirill Karabits)

    Handel Armida abbandonata, HWV 105: ‘Ah crudele! E pur ten’ vai’ (Emmanuelle Haïm, Le Concert d’Astrée, Sabine Devieilhe

    David Lang Mystery Sonatas: No. 1, Joy (Augustin Hadelich)

    Antheil Archipelago ‘Rhumba’ (BBC Philharmonic Orchestra/John Storgards)

     

    Vol. 7

    Thea Musgrave Loch Ness (Daniel Trodden, BBC National Orchestra of Wales/William Boughton)

    Cheryl Frances-Hoad Love Bytes (Verity Wingate, Philip Smith, Beth Higham-Edwards, Anna Menzies, George Jackson)

    Lutosławski Symphony No. 1: III. Allegretto misterioso (Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Hannu Lintu)

    Purcell King Arthur, Z628, Act 1: ‘I Call, I Call’ (Stefanie True, Vox Luminis/Lionel Meunier)

    Finzi Violin Concerto: I. Allegro (Ning Feng, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Carlos Miguel Prieto)

    Brahms Two Rhapsodies, Op. 79 No. 2 in G minor – Molto passionato, ma non troppo allegro (Charles Owen)

    Copland Letters from Home (Version for Chamber Orchestra) (BBC Philharmonic Orchestra/John Wilson

    Szymanowski Nocturne and Tarantella in E minor, Op. 28: I. Nocturne (Jennifer Pike, Petr Limonov)

    Beethoven Fidelio, Op. 72: O welche Lust (James Gaffigan, Zürcher Sing-Akademie, Luzerner Sinfonieorchester)

    Liszt Études d’exécution transcendante d’après Paganini: No. 1 in G minor (Elisa Tomellini)

    Corelli Violin Sonata in C Op. 5 No. 3 (transcribed for viola da gamba): III. Adagio (Lucile Boulanger)

    Mozart String Quintet No. 5: IV. Allegro (Klenke Quartett, Harald Schoneweg)

     

    Vol. 6

    Saint-Saëns Ascanio, Acte I, Tableau 1: Scène 1 ‘Très bien!’ (Jean-François Lapointe, Joé Bertili, Chœrs de la Haute École de Musique de Genève/Guillaume Tourniaire

    Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 III. Allegro con fuoco (Xiayin Wang, Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Peter Oundjian

    Purcell Come Ye Sons of Art (Birthday Ode for Queen Mary): ‘Strike the Viol, Touch the Lute’ (Tim Mead, Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien/François Lazarevitch)

    Aleksander Sedlar Savcho 3 (Nemanja Radulovic, Double Sense, Stéphanie Fontanarosa/Aleksander Sedlar)

    Barbara Strozzi Arie, Op. 8 No. 2: ‘Che si può fare’ (Emoke Baräth, Il Pomo d’Oro/Francesco Corti)

    Josef Suk 6 Piano Pieces, Op. 7: No. 1, Liebeslied (arr. for violin and orchestra) (Eldbjørg Hemsing, Antwerp Symphony Orchestra/Alan Buribayev)

    Scheidemann Pavana Lachrymae in D minor (Yoann Moulin)

    Beethoven String Quartet in E minor ‘Razumovsky’: III. Allegretto (Elias String Quartet)

    Mozart Violin Sonata in D Major, K306: III. Allegretto (Isabelle Faust, Alexander Melnikov)

    Moteverdi Vespro della Beata Vergine: VIII. Paslmus 126. Nisi Dominus a dieci voci (Bruno Boterf, Ludus Modalis)

     

    Vol. 5

    Tchaikovsky Swan Lake, Act 1 (1877 Version): No. 8, Danse des coupes. Tempo di polacca (State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia ‘Evgeny Svetlanov’/Vladimir Jurowski

    John Harbison Requim, Pt. 1: II. Sequence I. Dies irae (Nashville Chorus, Nashville Symphony/Giancarlo Guerrero)

    Richard Strauss 5 Lieder, Op. 41: No. 1, Wiegenlied (Arabella Steinbacher, WDR Symphony Orchestra/Lawrence Foster)

    Parry English Lyrics, Set 12: No. 7, The Sound of Hidden Music (Sarah Fox, Andrew West)

    Andrzej Panufnik I Kwartet smyczkowy: III. Postlude (Apollon Musagete Quartett)

    Chopin Piano Sonata No. 2: II. Scherzo (Live) (Eric Lu)

    Szymanowski Nocturne & Tarantella in E minor, Op. 28: II. Tarantella (Jennifer Pike, Peter Limonov)

    Einaudi Life (Live) (Angèle Dubeau, La Pietà)

    Giovanni Antonio Pandolfi Mealli 6 Sonatas for Violin and Continuo, Op. 3: Sonata No. 2 ‘La Cesta’ (Elicia Silverstein, Mauro Valli)

    Dvořák Piano Trio No. 4 in E minor: II. Poco adagio (Christian Tetzlaff, Tanja Tetzlaff, Lars Vogt)

    Florence Price Symphony No. 4: III. Juba Dance (Fort Smith Symphony/John Jeter)

    Mozart Piano Concerto No. 16: III. Allegro di molto (Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Manchester Camerata, Gábor Takács-Nagy

    Haydn Piano Sonata in G major, Op. 30 No. 5: I. Allegro con brio (Roman Rabinovich)

    Johann Strauss I Radetzky-Marsch, Op. 228 (Christian Theilemann, Vienna Philharmonic

     

    Vol. 4

    Arvo Pärt Passacaglia (Victoria Mullova, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra/Paavo Järvi)

    Michael Higgins The Angel Gabriel (Sonoro/Neil Ferris)

    Debussy Cello Sonata in D minor: I. Prologue. Lent. Sostenuto e molto risoluto (Jean-Guiden Queyras, Javier Perianes)

    Massanet Hérodiade, Act 1: ‘Celiu dont la parole efface… Il est doux, il est bon’ (Salomé) (Elsa Dreisig, Orchestre national Montpellier Occitanie/Michael Schonwandt

    Poulenc Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani in G minor: I. Andante (Live) (James O’Donnell, London Philharmonic Orchestra/Yannick Nézet-Séguin)

    Schumann Fantasiestücke Op. 72: I. Zart und mit Ausdruck (Sol Gabetta, Bertrand Chamayou)

    Gurney Since I Believe in God the Father Almighty (Teberae/Nigel Short)

    Peter Gregson Bach: The Cello Suites: Recomposed by Peter Gregson – Suite No. 1 in G, BWV 1007: I. Prelude (Peter Gregson, Richard Harwood, Reinoud Ford, Tim Lowe, Ben Chappell, Katherine Jenkinson)

    JS Bach Concerto in D minor, BWV 974: III. Presto (Víkingur Ólafsson)

    Purcell King Arthur, Act 1: ‘Come If You Dare’ (Robert Buckland, Vox Luminis/Lionel Meunier)

    Messiaen La Nativité du Seigneur: V. Les enfants de Dieu (Richard Gowers)

    George Onslow String Quartet No. 29 in E-flat, Op. 73 Elan Quintet)

    Cécile Chaminade Arabesque No. 1, Op. 61 (Mark Viner)

    Enescu Strigoii, Pt. 3: Bătrânu-și pleacă geana și iar rămâne orb (Alin Anca, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin/Gabriel Bebeșelea)

    Max Richter Mary Queen of Scots: The Shores of Scotland

    Tchaikovsky Swan Lake, Act II (1877 version): No. 13a, Danses des cygnes I. Tempo di valse

     

     

    Vol. 3

    Emilie Mayer Symphony No. 4: IV. Presto (Neubrandenburg Philharmonie/Stefan Malzew)

    Weber Clarinet Quintet in B-flat Major: IV. Rondo - Allegro giocoso (Julian Bliss & Carducci String Quartet)

    John Hess Vous, qui passez sans me voir (Julien Behr, Orchestre de l'Opéra de Lyon/Pierre Bleuse)

    John Francis Wade Adeste fideles (arr. M Suzuki for Choir and Organ) (Bach Collegium Japan Chorus/Masato Suzuki & Masaaki Suzuki)

    Schumann Fantasiestücke: I. Zart und mit Ausdruck (Sol Gabetta, Bertrand Chamayou)

    Domenico Sarro Messa a 5 voci: 'Laudamus te' (Maxim Emelyanychev, Jakub Józef Orliński, Il Pomo d'Oro)

    Holst Invocation Op. 19 No. 2 (Guy Johnston, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra/Andrew Davis)

    Dowland Come, Heavy Sleep (Grace Davidson, David Miller)

    Schumann Humoreske Op. 20: II. Hastig (William Youn)

    RO Morris Love Came Down at Christmas (arr. Stephen Cleobury) (Stephen Cleobury, Henry Websdale, Choir of King's College, Cambridge)

    Tchaikovsky The Seasons Op. 37a: XII. December. Christmas (Barry Douglas)

    Berlioz Roméo et Juliette: Pt. 3, Finale - Oath of Reconciliation (San Francisco Symphony Orchestra & Chorus/Michael Tilson Thomas)

    Elgar Chanson de nuit (Hallé Orchestra/Mark Elder)

    James Burton Tomorrow Shalle Be My Dancing Day (Jack Hawkins, Michael Bell, James Adams, Joseph Wicks, Choir of St John's College, Cambridge)

     

    Vol. 2

    Julian Anderson Heaven is Shy of Earth: III. Gloria (With Bird) (Susan Bickley, BBC Symphony Orchestra & Chorus/Oliver Knussen)

    Richard Strauss Horn Concerto No. 1: III. Rondo. Allegro (Live) (William Caballero, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra/Manfred Honeck)

    Derek Bermel Murmurations: I. Gathering at Gretna Green (ROCO)

    Frank Martin Ballade for Flute & Piano (Bridget Bolliger, Andrew West)

    Debussy Violin Sonata in G minor: III. Finale. Très animé (Isabelle Faust, Alexander Melnikov)

    Anonymous Now May We Singen (ORA Singers/Suzi Didby)

    Rachmaninov Prelude in G minor Op. 23 No. 5 (Live at Philharmonie, Berlin/2018) (Yuja Wang)

    James Newton Howard Violin Concerto: II. Andante semplice (James Ehnes, Detroit Symphony Orchestra/Cristian Măcelaru)

    Sally Beamish In the Stillness (Sonoro/Neil Ferris)

    Parry Suite moderne (arr. J Dibble for Orchestra): III. Romanza. Lento (BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Rumon Gamba)

    Jonathan Dove A Brief History of Creation: X. Whales Return to the Sea (Hallé Children's Choir, Hallé Orchestra/Mark Elder)

    Purcell King Arthur, Act 1: 'Come if You Dare' (Robert Buckland, Vox Luminis/Lionel Meunier)

    Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 4 (Live at Kimmel Center, Philadelphia) (Daniil Trifonov, The Philadelphia Orchestra/Yannick Nézet-Séguin)

    Fagerlund Höstsonaten, Act 1: charlotte Andergast! Vilken konstnär! (Krista Kujala, Mari Sares, Jere Martikainen, Jarmo Ojala, Finnish National Opera Chorus, Finnish National Opera Orchestra/John Storgards

     

    Vol. 1

    Julian Anderson Heaven is Shy of Earth: III. Gloria (With Bird) (Susan Bickley, BBC Symphony Chorus, BBC Symphony Orchestra/Oliver Knussen)

    Zemlinsky Albumblatt (Erinnerung aus Wien) (William Youn)

    Schreker The Birthday of the Infanta: Suite I. Reigen (Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra/JoAnn Falletta)

    Mozart Violin Concerto No. 1 K.207: III. Presto (Nikolaj Znaider, London Symphony Orchestra)

    Tchaikovsky The Seasons, Op. 37a, TH 135: XII. December. Christmas (Barry Douglas)

    Holst In the Bleak Midwinter (Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Isata Kanneh-Mason)

    Glazunov The Seasons ‘L’été: No. 9, Scène de l’été (Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra/Dmitri Kitayenko

    JS Bach Prelude & Fugue BVW 855a: Prelude No. 10 in B minor (Vikingur Ólafsson)

    Magnus Lindberg Tempus fugit Pt. 1 (Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Hannu Lintu)

    Gurney Since I Believe in God the Father Almighty (Tenebrae/Nigel Short)

    Tchaikovsky The Nutcracker Act 1: No. 6 Clara and the Nutcracker (Los Angeles Philharmonic/Gustavo Dudamel)

    Ravel Ma mère l’Oye Suite, M. 60: V. Le jardin féerique (Prague Philharmonia/Emmanuel Villaume)

    Eric Whitacre Deep Field: Earth Choir (Eric Whitacre Singers, Virtual Choir 5, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Eric Whitacre)

  • The best recordings of Handel’s Water Music

    classical-music.com | Sun, 14 Jul 2019 09:00:00 +0000

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    It was a long and lavish night out; an exercise in PR, power and politics, and a very public private entertainment. On the balmy evening of 17 July 1717, at a cost of ‘a hundred and fifty pounds for the musicians alone’, King George I stepped into the Royal Barge at Whitehall and sailed in a flotilla of courtiers and diplomats to the Chelsea home of Lord Ranelagh, where he took supper.

    His ear tickled by three orchestral suites that synthesized French, Italian and native styles with novel instrumentation (it is thought that the softer-edged G major Suite may have been played indoors) the King so much enjoyed Handel’s creation that he called for it to be played a second and third time.

    The party ended back in Whitehall at 3am and Handel’s status as England’s leading composer was secured. As with many of his compositions for royal occasions, he had built on the legacy of Purcell’s theatre music, creating dances of immediate and lasting appeal. Yet the first complete edition of the ‘famous Water Musick’ was not published until almost 30 years after his death.

     

    The best recording

    Hervé Niquet (conductor)
    Le Concert Spirituel (2002)
    Glossa GCDSA921616

    On disc and online, there is a wide choice of historically informed performances: Christopher Hogwood’s 1978 L’Oiseau Lyre recording with the Academy of Ancient Music remains outstanding for even-temperedness; Lars Ulrik Mortensen’s account of the Suite in F with the European Union Baroque Orchestra for Estonian Record Productions boasts a dynamic bass line; there’s a pleasing pithiness to Nicholas McGegan’s interpretation with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, and great panache from Ensemble Zefiro directed by Alfredo Bernardini.

    From questions of scale and ordering to speeds, dynamics and instrumentation, the variety is remarkable, but from a shortlist of 16, I found myself drawn to those discs with a distinctive, even radical character. We think of the 18th century as a quieter place, but audibility would have been a factor on the Thames (think of Canaletto’s busy riverscapes).

    Then there’s the laugh-out-loud shock of hearing hunting horns with an orchestra for the first time. For this reason, Hervé Niquet’s 2002 Glossa disc took first place, with nine horns as pungently tuned as those of the Bohemian players engaged by Handel himself. There are vast choirs of Stanesby oboes and bassoons, kettledrums, and a Jingling Johnny in the final Gigue. It’s packed with humour and sensuality, as hedonistic as a tequila slammer and absurdly enjoyable.

     

     

     

    Three more great recordings

    Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin (2016)
    Harmonia Mundi HMC902216

    No conductor, a single pair of oboes, two house-trained horns, a brace of gleaming natural trumpets and a band of musicians who really listen to each other. With 13 fewer players than Handel’s band of 50 and less than half of Hervé Niquet’s forces, Akademie für Alte Musik’s delicately drawn 2016 recording is exquisitely recorded to reflect the different colours in the writing, and is beautifully blended throughout.

    There are some daringly slow tempos, a wide dynamic range, and touching intimacy in the minuet of the second suite, where lutenist Björn Colell shines. Where Niquet offers spectacle, the Berliners offer inventive articulation from the violas, playful trills from contrabassoon and double bass, and a soundworld perhaps better suited to the king’s Chelsea supper than the hurly-burly 
    of the Thames.

     

     

     

    Jordi Savall (conductor)
    Le Concert des Nations (1993)
    Alia Vox AVSA9860

    Jordi Savall’s 1993 performance of the Water Music on Alia Vox boasts the warmest toned oboes, bassoons and horns and beautifully direct string playing in the unusually reverberant acoustic of Cardona Castle in Catalonia. It’s honeyed and poised playing, with sensitively pointed continuo accompaniment from Pierre Hantaï on harpsichord and Paula Chateaneuf on theorbo. Savall has played with the ordering of the D and G major dances, crafting them into one persuasive suite of similar length to the F major Suite. 

    The decoration is French in flavour and underlines how cleverly Handel built on Purcell’s legacy. While there is little sense of the outdoors, there is a great sense of theatre.

     

     

     

    John Eliot Gardiner (conductor)
    English Baroque Soloists (1983)
    Philips 434 1542

    There’s a haughty, ceremonial beauty to Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s 1983 performance with the English Baroque Soloists. Though the tone is a little thin by modern standards in the sections for single strings and solo oboe, the muscularity of the tutti trills is thrilling and the horns would make any monarch proud. No corner has escaped unexamined and the engagement of the cellos and double basses is unflagging.

    The Adagio e staccato of the F major Suite is sculpted without cloying sentiment and the Andante is suavely balanced. What is lacking in tenderness in the birdlike and dewy dances of the G major Suite is compensated for by the athleticism of the D major Suite, a tart flavour to the final Bourrée, and a lovely round tone to the timpani.

     

     

     

    This article first appeared in the December 2016 issue of BBC Music Magazine, written by Anna Picard.

     

  • Six of the best choral arrangements of spirituals

    classical-music.com | Thu, 11 Jul 2019 09:00:00 +0000

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    'My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord' arr. Moses Hogan

    New Orleans-born composer and arranger Moses Hogan was renowned for his arrangements of Negro spirituals, publishing over 70 such works, many of which were compiled in the 2002 Oxford Book of Spirituals. Hogan’s arrangement of 'My Soul's Been Anchored in the Lord' makes use of deliciously varied vocals. The range of the bass voices is established very early on, following an electric and grabbing introduction.

    The changes in texture are captivating: the majestic full-choir contrasts with bold solo bass passages, and this balanced handling of vocal parts continues throughout. Just when you think you know where the song is going, a wonderful antiphonal section breaks out between the female and male voices. The sopranos’ starring moment in the last phrase is the cherry on top of the cake. 

     

     

    'Ezekiel Saw de Wheel' arr. William Dawson

    Telling the story of the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel's divine vision, this song has been recorded by many well-known American singers, including baritone Paul Robeson and blues singer John Lee Hooker. This was one of Dawson's final arrangements of his career, following a handful of original compositions.

    This particular arrangement is a true tour de force, which will stretch the capabilities of most choirs. The brilliance of this arrangement is the cyclical nature and multi-layered writing, which means you can feel the ‘wheel’ turning in the air with the sound. This is particularly noticeable towards the end of the piece when the entire ensemble sings the title lyrics. The solo alto line is particularly striking, establishing itself with a soulfulness to complement the full-bodied sound of the choir. 

     

     

    'You Must Have that True Religion' arr. Roland Carter

    This is considered core repertoire for historically black college university (HBCU) choral ensembles. The beauty of any great spiritual is the ability to not just have one type of texture throughout, but various sections that take the listener on a musical journey. This arrangement does exactly that.

    The lyrics emphasise the honesty and truth to a religion that one should possess to earn the ultimate prize in heaven. The entire ensemble states this at first, then a soprano soloist above the group, ending with a wonderfully contrapuntal section. The men in this section traditionally start slower, singing ‘true religion, true religion, true religion’, which increases in speed until it sounds like a locomotive engine building up steam.

     

     

    'I Know I’ve Been Changed' arr. Damon Dandridge

    This is another example of an arrangement made up of many different choral configurations of the main theme. With soloists, separate sections for men and women and call-and-response reverberating throughout the main choir, there is a constant change in texture throughout. These multiple sections allow the listener to feel as though they have travelled with the choir on a musical journey and have, in fact, been changed – just as the title suggests. Damon Dandridge, like Roland Carter (above) works with choirs in historically black college universities in the US.

     

     

    'I’ll Stand' arr. Raymond Wise

    This is a wildly athletic spiritual which takes precision and clarity to pull off.  This spiritual is asking whether you will stand for your Jesus or Religion. Its brilliance lies in the speed at which the two-note motif travels throughout the chorus. It’s a real crowd-pleaser.

    Raymond Wise is a professor of African American studies and director of the African American Choral Ensemble at Indiana University Bloomington, having begun his musical career at the age of three, singing gospel music with his family singing group 'The Wise Singers'. He is also an ordained priest and has recorded a huge amount of African American music with various ensembles.

     

     

    'I Just Come from the Fountain' arr. André Thomas

    The title and lyrics of this spiritual refer to a fountain of life-sustaining holy water, with a section that rhythmically repeats ‘been drinking’. Again, it’s a very antiphonal work, with interactions between the bass and treble voices, which creates a really great effect. Audiences can almost see the sound bouncing back and forth around the ensemble. André Thomas is a current professor of music at Florida State University, and is a published author as well as a conductor and composer, having written Way Over in Beulah Lan': Understanding and Performing the Negro Spiritual.

     

    This article was written by Eric Conway, director of the Morgan State Unviersity Choir. Details of their upcoming performances can be found here.

  • A guide to Vaughan Williams's Symphony No. 8

    classical-music.com | Wed, 10 Jul 2019 09:00:00 +0000

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    The Eighth, thought by many to be the lightest of the symphonies, contains many references, none of which Vaughan Williams feels the need to deny

     

    Composed: 1953-5 (slight revision in 1956)
    Premiere: 2 May 1956, Free Trade Hall, ManchesterHallé Orchestra/John Barbirolli

    First sketches for the Eigth Symphony date from 1953, and Vaughan Williams took the rough score with him when he went to Cornell University, New York, to give some lectures in 1954.

    It was in this year that his Christmas cantata Hodie had its first performance in Worcester Cathedral. He again awarded the first performance to the Hallé in Manchester, and the Eighth Symphony was sufficiently complete for its dedicatee, Sir John Barbirolli, to give it a run-through in the composer’s presence in February 1956.

     

     

    The Eighth's Style

    The Eighth is sometimes considered the lightest of Vaughan Williams’s symphonies, a jeu d’esprit, but this is only partially true. As was his custom, he had it played through on the piano at an early stage to a select group of friends. One of these ‘jurors’ had questioned whether it was a symphony, and suggested Sinfonietta. The composer replied, ‘I am not taking your advice. I feel the thing is a symphony and it is going to remain one.’

    All his previous symphonies could be said to embody some extra-musical idea, rather than an explicit programme. The Eighth is the exception. It has no sub-text, and is more like ‘just a piece of music’, to quote him on another occasion. The four movements are sharply differentiated in character, the second being for wind only, the third for strings. Although scored for what Vaughan Williams called a ‘Schubert’ orchestra, there is a large and exotic percussion section, ‘including all the “phones” and “spiels” known to the composer’ (in fact, side drum, triangle, cymbals, bass drum, vibraphone, xylophone, glockenspiel, tubular bells, three tuned gongs and celesta, requiring five players).

     

     

    References

    The first movement, which Vaughan Williams nicknamed ‘seven variations in search of a theme’, is among his most subtle and sophisticated pieces. The second and fifth variations were written first, which explains the remark about searching for a theme.

    It has been suggested that the flute solo in the first variation bears a relationship to the ‘human’ music in the ‘Intermezzo’ of Antartica and also to Holst’s tune for the Remembrance Day hymn ‘O Valiant Hearts’, so perhaps a subtext exists after all.

    An American critic noted the resemblance of the opening theme of the Cavatina slow movement to the Passion chorale O Sacred Head. Vaughan Williams wrote to him: ‘I was thinking about the slow movement, and how I wanted a cello tune and it suddenly occurred to me how lovely that chorale would sound on the cellos so, as far as I can remember, without deliberately adopting it, the two themes got mixed up in my mind with the result you know. I am quite unrepentant!’

    The Toccata, with its riot of percussion, bells and brass, sounds light-hearted, but the composer in his programme-note refers to its ‘short, rather sinister exordium’, which hints at a more profound intention.

    At a visit to Covent Garden in February 1956 to hear Puccini’s Turandot, Vaughan Williams was fascinated by the tuned gongs, and added them to the Symphony (alongside an already expanded percussion section) saying they were ‘not absolutely essential but their inclusion was highly desirable’.

     

    Recommended Recording:

    Hallé Orchestra/John Barbirolli
    BBC Legends BBCL 4100-2

     

  • A guide to Vaughan Williams's Symphony No. 7 'Sinfonia Antartica'

    classical-music.com | Wed, 03 Jul 2019 08:54:58 +0000

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    Now in his eighties, Vaughan Williams’s energy has not decreased, and he adapts a film score into another surprising and innovative symphony.

     

    Composed: 1949-52
    Premiere: 14 July 1953, Free Trade Hall, Hallé Orchestra/Sir John Barbirolli

    The seventh of Vaughan Williams’s symphonies is based on the score that he composed in 1947-8 for the Ealing Studios film, Scott of the Antarctic, about Captain Robert Scott’s ill-fated expedition to the South Pole in 1912.

    He wrote much of the music without seeing any of the film because he was so gripped by the subject and by the opportunities for depicting snow and blizzards. He was also dismayed by the incompetence of much of the planning of the expedition.

     

     

    Other Ventures

    The film was shown in 1948, and by June 1949, he asked for the score to be returned so that he could get on with what he was already calling Sinfonia Antartica. But his work was interrupted by revisions of his long-gestated opera, The Pilgrim’s Progress, and preparations for its world premiere at Covent Garden in 1951, as part of the celebrations for the Festival of Britain. Shortly afterwards, his wife, Adeline, died.

    He was also working on a Concerto Grosso for strings, a cantata, The Sons of Light, with words by Ursula, the Romance in D flat for harmonica, strings and piano, written for Larry Adler and the Fantasia on the ‘Old 104th’ Psalm Tune, for piano, chorus and orchestra.

    For the following year, 1952, a number of concerts were planned to mark the composer’s 80th birthday on 12  October. As a tribute to Vaughan Williams, Sir John Barbirolli conducted the existing six symphonies during the Hallé Orchestra’s 1951-2 season in Manchester.

     

     

    Reception

    Vaughan Williams took the full score to Manchester in March 1952 to show to Barbirolli, who related later that ‘Vaughan Williams was loath to show it to me, for he feared I might not like it and wanted to spare me the embarrassment of saying so’.

    The symphony was played through at sight by the Hallé pianist, Rayson Whalley, a feat that amazed the composer. There was another full play-through in November and nine hours of rehearsal. After the first performance, two months later, Vaughan Williams declared it to be his ‘first flawless first performance’ and dubbed Barbirolli ‘Glorious John’. On the evening before he set off for Manchester for the first performance, Vaughan Williams asked Ursula Wood to marry him, which she did on 7 February.

    The first performance was a resounding success, and was attended by Scott’s son Peter, the artist and naturalist. Although there was debate about whether Antartica was a symphony or a suite of film music, one important critic noted the work’s ‘masterly and completely unified symphonic form’.

    The use of the wind machine and wordless women’s voices to describe the Polar winds and ice, the organ’s climax in the glacier sequence and the depiction of whales and penguins caught the public imagination right from the first.

    Perhaps the germ of Antartica could be said to be in Vaughan Williams’s one-act opera Riders to the Sea, another example of man against nature. The keening voices of the women mourning for a drowned man anticipate the wordless voices of the Antarctic winds.

     

    Recommended Recording:

    Margaret Ritchie (soprano),
    Women of the Hallé Choir;
    Hallé Orchestra/Sir John Barbirolli
    EMI 566 5432

     

  • Six of the best: works to hear on Independence Day

    classical-music.com | Tue, 02 Jul 2019 15:18:58 +0000

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    Aaron CoplandLincoln Portrait

    The ultimate homage to whom many consider the greatest US president, Lincoln Portrait was written by Aaron Copland after an invitation by conductor Andre Kostelanetz to write a piece honouring an ‘eminent American’. Scored for orchestra and narrator (including, among others, Henry Fonda, Neil Armstrong, Tom Hanks and Charlton Heston), the text includes extracts from Lincoln’s ‘Gettysburg Address’, Lincoln’s poignant speech to mark the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, site of one of the bloodiest battles in the American civil war.

    As with many of his works, Copland weaves American folk tunes into Lincoln Portrait including, here, Camptown Races and Springfield Mountain. Copland’s ‘American’ style has influenced all American composers since, from Bernstein to John Williams.

     

     

     

    John Philip SousaStars and Stripes Forever

    Adopted by official decree as the national march of the United States, Stars and Stripes Forever was one of over 130 marches Sousa wrote for military band.

    Supposedly written on Christmas aboard an ocean liner, the catchy march has been arranged many times since, including for organ and piano – Russian-born pianist Vladimir Horowitz celebrated becoming an American citizen with a particularly eye-popping transcription that’s worth seeing, let along hearing… Arcadi Volodos is on blistering form here.

     

     

     

    Charles IvesHoliday Symphony

    Movement titles don’t get much more patriotic than these: I. Washington’s Birthday; II. Decoration Day; III. The Fourth of July; IV. Thanksgiving and Forefathers’ Day. The orchestral language, however, is rather more tortured… Ives’s intention in his symphony was to recreate the childhood holiday memories of an adult, however distorted. Cue the overlapping and confusion of themes and an original use of atonality that gives the work a unique piquancy – and poignancy.

     

     

     

    Samuel BarberKnoxville: Summer of 1915

    ‘It has become that time of the evening when people sit on their porches, rocking gently.’ So begins, in lilting fashion, Barber’s exquisite idyll of American country life from the perspective of a small boy. In Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Barber sets music to the poetry of James Agee ­– on reading Agee’s poem, the composer wrote, ‘the summer evening [Agee] describes in his native southern town reminded me so much of similar evenings when I was a child at home’.

    Nothing much happens, although Barber’s music clearly points to some sort of trouble on the horizon… and many have pointed to the child’s words sounding as if they were the memory of an adult. Here’s a beautiful rendition featuring soprano Dawn Upshaw with the Orchestra of St Luke’s under David Zinman.

     

     

     

    Virgil Thomson: Film score to 'The Plow That Broke the Plains'

    Critic and composer Virgil Thomson has been credited by many with developing the ‘American’ sound – his score to this 1937 US documentary is packed full of US folk tunes accompanying the story of disastrous, uncontrolled agricultural farming in 20th-century America.

     

     

     

    Herbert Howells: Take him earth, for cherishing

    It might seem odd to include a piece written by one of the most English of English composers in this list, but Herbert Howells’s searing 10-minute choral work expresses the deep sorrow, pain and regret of a nation following the assassination of John F Kennedy in Dallas in 1963.

    In his sleeve note to his own 1967 recording, Howells wrote, ‘Within the year following the tragic death of President Kennedy in Texas, plans were made for a dual American-Canadian Memorial Service to be held in Washington. I was asked to compose an a cappella work for the commemoration. The text was mine to choose, Biblical or other. Choice was settled when I recalled a poem by Prudentius (AD 348–413). I had already set it in its medieval Latin years earlier, as a study for Hymnus Paradisi. But now I used none of that unpublished setting. Instead I turned to Helen Waddell’s faultless translation […] Here was the perfect text—the Prudentius “Hymnus circa exsequias defuncti”.’

     

  • Luciano Pavarotti: The best recordings

    classical-music.com | Wed, 26 Jun 2019 06:00:00 +0000

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    Donizetti
    La fille du régiment
    Joan Sutherland etc; Royal Opera House/Richard Bonynge
    Decca 414 5202

    Pavarotti plays the ebullient young peasant to perfection.

     

     

     

    Bellini 
    I Puritani
    Joan Sutherland; Royal Opera House/Richard Bonynge
    Decca 417 5882

    Pavarotti subdues his extrovert energy to style and elegance, alongside a strong cast.

     

     

     

    Verdi
    Rigoletto (DVD)
    Edita Gruberova, Ingvar Wixell etc; Vienna Staatsoper/Riccardo Chailly
    DG 073 4166

    Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s heavily stylized, ornate but often impressive cinematic account is dominated by Pavarotti with surprising sexual charge.

     

     

     

    Puccini
    La bohème
    Mirella Freni etc; Deutsche Oper Berlin/Herbert von Karajan
    Decca 421 0492

    Freni and Pavarotti make meltingly believable young lovers.

     

     

     

    Puccini
    Turandot
    Joan Sutherland, Montserrat Caballé etc; John Alldis Choir, London Philharmonic Orchestra/Zubin Mehta
    Decca 414 2742

    Pavarotti’s passionately perceptive, unforced Calaf matches Sutherland’s unlikely Ice Princess.

     

     

     

    Mozart
    Idomeneo (DVD)
    Frederica von Stade, Ileana Cotrubas etc; Metropolitan Opera/Levine

    James Levine’s reading is traditional but not crushingly heavyweight, there is a high-powered cast, and Pavarotti is charismatic as the embattled king. 

     

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