This recording presents two Austrian requiems of totally different character. Johann Joseph Fux wrote his Requiem in 1720 for the funeral of Eleonora von Neuburg, widow of the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II. Composed by a musician reputed for his theoretical skill, it impresses with the quality of the polyphonic writing combined with a very rich instrumental fabric comprising cornetts, trombones and bassoon in addition to violins, instruments also benefiting from concertante interventions.
The London symphonies, sometimes called the Salomon symphonies after the man who introduced London to Joseph Haydn, were composed by Joseph Haydn between 1791 and 1795. They can be categorized into two groups: Symphonies Nos. 93–98, which were composed during Haydn's first visit to London, and Symphonies Nos. 99–104, composed in Vienna and London for Haydn's second visit.
Every London Symphony, apart from one (No. 95), has a slow introduction to the first movement.
Among contemporary composers of orchestral music, Christopher Rouse is a prominent figure, noted for his extremely virtuosic scores as well as for his dark subject matter. Such fantastic – some might say nightmarish – pieces as the ultra-violent Gorgon (1984) and the enigmatic Iscariot (1989) are true to form in their evocation of mythology or religion, and even the elegiac Trombone Concerto (1991) has its suggestions of otherworldly things, particularly in its quotation of Leonard Bernstein's "Kaddish" Symphony and the haunting, dirge-like adaptation of the folk song Tsintskaro at the opening of the third movement. Yet Rouse's music is much more than its allusions, however meaningful, and it's possible to enjoy these works for their raw power and ethereal beauty without knowing anything about their references.
This recording, made in 1991, dates from what was perhaps the heyday of the English Chamber Orchestra (although the group's vigorous activities remain undiminished). The ECO, with origins as a conductorless Baroque orchestra, functioned smoothly as an ensemble, with a restrained sound and a high level of mutual sensitivity among the players. In these late Haydn symphonies, that translated into readings that were exceptionally effective in bringing out the humorous details and asides, the extensions of phrases so that they end with a wink or a joke, that are the essence of late Haydn. The orchestra is probably about the size of the one Haydn had at his disposal in London.
"Joseph Djougachvili, dit Staline, surnommé Sosso dans les premières années de sa vie, est né en Géorgie, à Gori, en 1878. Quelques années plus tard, à quelques rues de là, naissait un autre Joseph, Davrichachvili, ou Davrichewy." …
Haydn’s six Op. 20 string quartets are milestones in the history of the genre. He wrote them in 1772 for performance by his colleagues at the Esterházy court and, unusually, not specifically for publication. Each one is a unique masterpiece and the set introduces compositional techniques that radically transformed the genre and shaped it for centuries to come. Haydn overturns conventional instrumental roles, crafts remarkably original colours and textures, and unlocks new expressive possibilities in these works which were crucial in establishing the reputation of purely instrumental music. The range within the quartets is kaleidoscopic. From the introspective, chorale-like slow movement of No. 1 via the terse and radical quartet No. 3 in G minor to the comic spirit of the fourth in D major, each of the quartets inhabits a distinct musical world. For many, this is some of the greatest music Haydn ever wrote. Playing these seminal works is one of the world’s finest young ensembles, the Doric String Quartet.
The first release of the first stereo recording of the work, the historical importance of this set of Wagner's Siegfried is undeniable. Recorded by Decca at the 1955 Bayreuth Festival, this performance directed by Joseph Keilberth was to have been issued as part of the first complete Ring cycle. But persuaded that only a studio recording could do the work justice, Decca decided to shelve Keilberth's performance, a decision that led to Georg Solti recording Siegfried with the Vienna Philharmonic and ultimately to the release of a Ring cycle that many still regard as the finest ever recorded. But aside from its inherent historical value, what's its aesthetic value? While much better than average, Keilberth's Siegfried doesn't challenge the established order.