This release sees Murray Perahia returning to Brahms after a significant series of excellent Bach recordings for Sony Classical. His 1991 Sony recording of the Sonata No.3 has an assortment of Intermezzos and Rhapsodies as a filler, but this new disc sees Perahia taking the later opus numbers head-on, working up to them chronologically via the Handel Variations and Rhapsodies Op.79 which, as Katrin Eich says in her booklet notes, each represent an ‘end point’ at certain stages in Brahms’ compositional output.
The 18th century saw an explosion of symphonies (over 18,000 composed in just 60 years, by one estimate). ‘Birth of the Symphony: Handel to Haydn' surveys some of the diverse works which were central to the genre as we know it today. The recording begins with Handel's Sinfonia from Saul, an example of the oratorio sinfonia which supplied models for the early symphony's scoring. Works from the avant-garde Mannheim composers Stamitz and Richter demonstrate the new sonic possibilities of the form, with which Mozart also engages in his very first attempt at the symphony. The recording ends with an example of a mature classical symphony, Haydn's 'La passione'.
Jephtha (1752) was George Frederick Handel's final oratorio, and it was composed during a period of incipient blindness and declining health. Yet the composer's artistic powers were undiminished in this dramatization of the Biblical story, for the arias and choruses are as memorable as any from Handel's earlier works in the genre, including Messiah and Israel in Egypt. This 2008 recording by Fabio Biondi, the Collegium Vocale Ghent, and the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra is a brilliant period presentation, and the spry rhythms, lean counterpoint, clear textures, and distinctive colors of original instruments combine to make this an especially enjoyable performance of a fairly neglected masterpiece.
This Decca Classics release is the first ever complete recording of Arminio, with only one previous incomplete performance available. Described by one contemporary commentator as a miracle, and another as in every respect excellent & vastly pleasing, Arminio is ripe for reappraisal and new presentation.
In 2009 the venue of the Duisburg Philharmonics, the Philharmonie Mercatorhalle, received a new concert organ in the anglo-late romantic style, modeled after the English Town Hall organs of the time. We now present the first solo album featuring the new instrument, with Roland Maria Stangier at the organ.
This album features 7 works for harpsichord, 6 of which are taken from the "Darmstadt Harpsichord Book" (DHB) housed in the university and municipal library ("Universitats- und Landesbibliothek") of the same city, with 5 of those works by Handel, and the 6th by Christoph Graupner. The harpsichordist on this recording, Genevieve Soly, is a scholar on the DHB and on the music of Graupner. She also contributed the liner notes on this recording, and wears her learning lightly there. She also plays well in all the works.