Christopher Wrench commands a broad solo repertoire including the complete organ works of Bach, whilst also working as a liturgical musician, pedagogue & chamber player. He teaches organ at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University & directs the music programme at St Mary’s Anglican Church, Kangaroo Point in Brisbane. In 2008 he was awarded the Lord Mayor’s Australia Day Cultural Award for his outstanding contribution to the musical life of Brisbane.
The early Beethoven, the late Haydn… Where is the borderline between these 2 – what is the connection, what differentiates them? Although their ways of life & characters were clearly different, both masters lived in a time during which it was as important to obey the prescribed musical rules as it was to connect the artists intellect with his creativity, personality, & emotional world.
By late summer of 1837, the 27-year-old Schumann was secretly engaged to his beloved Clara Wieck. The powerful emotions connected with this event were a stimulus to Schumann’s creative impulses, for he was a Romantic through & through. It was at this time that he composed the deeply personal Davidsbundlertanze -18 dances inspired by the imaginary league of David. This fellowship, invented by Schumann, consisted of Schumann’s own alter egos, plus a number of well-respected musicians & friends including Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. The group was established as a way of fighting against the Philistines; it was Schumann’s response to contemporary musical trends which he saw as cheap, excessively virtuosic, & superficial.
Two rarely recorded Haydn violin concertos frame Rachel Podger’s performance of Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante in E flat on this disc. Both concertos have only string accompaniment, here provided by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and a discreet harpsichord (the player’s name unaccountably omitted from the list of the orchestra personnel in the accompanying booklet). Rachel Podger has chosen to play both concertos on her own Pesarinius violin (1739) that she feels is most suited to the style of these works and few would disagree with her choice. Her agile and spirited playing in the outer movements is complemented by her pure cantilena in the slow movements. As is to be expected, both works are full of baroque idioms and, while neither presents Haydn at his most inventive, they make an enjoyable pairing.
"PentaTone have definitely established a winning formula for success with the ten Wagner operas they are currently recording in association with Deutschlandradio Kultur in Berlin. (…) The presentation of this set is excellent. Thankfully, it includes a well translated German/ English libretto (unlike the travesty supplied with the Bychkov version), a thought provoking essay on the opera by Steffen Georgi and full artist biographies. Though my own allegiance to the Bychkov version among recent recordings remains steadfast this Janowski account is unlikely to disappoint. It will surely be welcomed by avid Wagnerites and makes one eager for the next issue in what is proving to be a superlative series." ~sa-cd.net
"…This dramatic and involving 'Parsifal' raises Marek Janowski's epic Wagnerian journey to a new level of excellence that one hopes will be maintained in the performances and recordings yet to come - an exciting prospect for all Wagnerites!" ~sa-cd.net
"…The music works beautifully in this arrangement by group member Thomas Schindl, scored for piano, harp, vibraphone, and double bass, along with a part for guest percussionist Sven von Samson. The colorful and unusual instrumentation creates an even broader expressive palette than the piano version, and the evocative percussion atmospherics that surround some of the pieces add about 10 minutes to the total duration of the suite. The playing is delicate and spirited throughout, and the sound quality of the SACD is balanced and detailed." ~allmusicguide
Who says you can’t make a great record in one day — or night, as the case may be? The Trinity Session was recorded in one night using one microphone, a DAT recorder, and the wonderful acoustics of the Holy Trinity in Toronto. Interestingly, it’s the album that broke the Cowboy Junkies in the United States for their version of “Sweet Jane,” which included the lost verse. It’s far from the best cut here, though. There are other covers, such as Margo Timmins’ a cappella read of the traditional “Mining for Gold,” a heroin-slow version of Hank Williams’ classic “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Dreaming My Dreams With You” (canonized by Waylon Jennings), and a radical take of the Patsy Cline classic “Walkin’ After Midnight” that closes the disc.