"…The whole disc is a great success. Recording quality is first rate, with the necessary clarity tempered by warmth and just the right amount of resonance. Excellent notes are by Dr. Christopher Hailey. Recommended, even if you still find Webern hard work." ~musicweb-international
For all of those who look for early works of Pärt this is a precious recording. I believe there are a lot of people who don't find much appeal in Pärt's late repetitive, mystic works for the very same reasons others prefer them. So what's up here is that Pärt has a few lesser known works before, say, his third symphony which are the "opposite" of the mentioned above. Those who are found of Schnittke will surely appreciate this. The most remarkable composition in this record is maybe the "Credo" for piano mixed choir and orchestra. It consists of 13 minutes of duel between the forces of the past (represented by Bach's well known motifs) and the eruptive resources of modernist aleatoric clusters of sound. So, pools of beautiful passages are interrupted by (or combined with) destructive (or desconstructive) interventions of the orchestra till the whole, peaking sometimes the frenetic, becomes yet a powerful block of distinctive sound.
“[These suites] have rarely been recorded or promoted by harpsichordists during the most recent revival of interest in ‘early music.’” I realize that Richard Egarr is entitled to his own opinions—his liner notes on an earlier release, for example, likened the humor in Purcell’s harpsichord music to that of the wonderful old 1950s BBC comedy The Goon Show —but he’s not entitled to his own facts. Christopher Brodersen pointed out in a 2011 review of these works featuring Laurence Cummings ( Fanfare 34:5) that ArkivMusic listed nine complete sets played on the harpsichord, with several others on the piano. I find some of the suites have considerably more recordings than that, in 2014: 26 for the Suite in A Major, 28 for the Suite in D Minor, 25 for the Suite in E Minor, 47 for the Suite in E Major. If such numbers reflect rare recordings, I have to wonder what Egarr would consider a moderate number, let alone a frequent one.
Classical music is one of the greatest joys in life. Opera on the other hand, is often too melodramatic to stomach. But there is nothing more enchanting than an Aria. On this 2 CD set, Emma Kirkby sings in sweet exultation. Her voice expresses power and agility yet a limpid tranquility. Clarity is the greatest achievement of any musician. With the aid of precision accompaniment on period instruments, shameless perfection is delivered. She soothes the soul longing for beauty. Her marvelous Soprano is rendered on 25 tracks in this eclectic ensemble. If you are a champion of Handel or a devotee of Mozart, you should not hesitate to purchase this CD. Emma Kirkby will have you beaming with delight and pining for more. Surely it will be one of the brightest of your collection.
Steven Isserlis and Richard Egarr here assemble all the viola da gamba sonatas written by three composers born in the propitious year of 1685: one each by Handel and Domenico Scarlatti, and three by JS Bach. Isserlis plays them on the gamba’s modern cousin, the cello, and the microphone loves his playing, picking up all the nuances and scampering asides from his soft-spoken instrument which can sometimes get lost in big concert halls. Egarr on harpsichord matches Isserlis’s eloquence and rambunctious energy all the way. The dreamy, airy slow movement of Bach’s Sonata in G minor brings telling use of vibrato as Isserlis circles around Egarr, his playing at once idiomatic and soulful. An extra cellist reinforces the bass line in the Handel and Scarlatti, in which the composers give the harpsichordist only a framework; Egarr’s imaginative realisations ensure that even when Scarlatti is at his most repetitive, he is never dull.
The magnificent Christopher Purves performs a recital of Handel’s bass arias. This unique collection demonstrates the range and brilliance of Handel’s writing for this voice, featuring a selection from Italian and English operas, English classical drama, Biblical oratorios, literary odes and a masque. Handel’s endlessly imaginative gift for characterization is fully explored here, with Purves commanding an extraordinary emotional and technical range from the buffo blustering of Polyphemus in Acis and Gatalea to the loving musings of Abinoam in ‘Tears, such as tender fathers shed’ from the oratorio Deborah.
This series of eleven church anthems is a sterling example of doing more with less. Though their format is multiple movements for soloists and chorus and inviting of grand treatment, Handel had available only a couple of oboes and a small string band and choir (with no violas or altos for nos. 1-6). Yet each one of these anthems is a gem. Handel's music captures well the changing moods of the Psalm texts–from somber penitence to serene bliss to infectious joy to the raging of storms and seas. Though Bowman's arias lie uncomfortably low for him, he and George do fine work; Lynne Dawson, Patrizia Kwella, and Ian Partridge are delightful. Harry Christophers leads his choir and orchestra in subtly inflected and beautifully paced performances.