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In the midst of life: Music from the Baldwin Partbooks I

Like his counterpart in Scotland Thomas Wode, John Baldwin is among a handful of musicians whom we have to thank for the preservation of the treasury of sixteenth-century choral music. Baldwin was particularly diligent, recording almost 170 works from early in the century right up to his own lifetime in the last quarter of the 1500s, many of which survive as unique copies.

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Bach: Weihnachtsoratorium

Kuijken’s Weihnachtsoratorium is a treat: it’s clear as a bell, with every note of every line audible, and the tuning very precise. As you would expect from La Petite Bande, it’s all one-to-a-part, except for doubling the upper strings, so the balance of voices, strings, wind and brass is as it is, and the liner notes say that this hasn’t been messed around with by the recording engineers

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Telemann: Festive Cantatas

The three works here (all in world modern premiere recordings) come from the cycle that Telemann published for 1748–49, the so-called “Engel-Jahrgang” to texts by Erdmann Neumeister, all following a five-movement pattern: chorus, aria, recitative, aria and chorale.

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Casani: Il viaggio di Tobia

This late 17th-century oratorio has both text and music by the little-known Giovanni Maria Casini, a Florentine who had gained favour at the court of Cosimo III and Ferdinando Medici, where he came into contact with Alessandro Scarlatti. The present recording has five solo singers and a choir for those movements called “coro”