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.
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.
"…The disc’s exceptional, state-of-the-art recording draws you in right close, with Allan’s very special and intimate delivery cocooned by the immaculately judged and empathic contributions of a handful of other musicians (guitar, dobro, accordion, banjo, bowed psaltery, fretless bass). I feel sure that Leaving At Dawn will come to be judged as one of Allan’s finest ever collections." ~folk roots
This recording of one of Haydn’s greatest masterpieces is not to be missed. Those who are familiar with Colin Davis’s recordings of the Haydn London Symphonies, made over 30 years ago with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, will know that he has a special affection for this composer’s music and unfailingly communicates his love of it to both performers and listeners alike. Surprisingly this would appear to be the first time that he has recorded Haydn’s Creation, but it has been worth the wait.