Floral design

Rameau: Pièces pour clavecin

I must say I find quite extraordinary the note’s suggestion that Rameau’s solo harpsichord pieces are ‘somewhat neglected’, especially after this last year. Be that as it may, Bertrand Cuiller here sets about rectifying any such neglect with a will and no little vigour.

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A painted tale

The young American tenor Nicholas Phan has rightly attracted praise for his performances of Britten, with whose music he identifies. It is very noticeable that he has welcomed on board many elements of Pears’ style, notably the latter’s use (particularly in his later years) of acciaccatura – launching up to a higher note from the lower one, like a mini trampoline in front of a vaulting horse.

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Cavalieri: Rappresentatione di Anima & di Corpo

What price progress in the early music world? This new version of Emilio de Cavalieri’s seminal sacred opera falls both as to concept and performance a million miles short of Andrew Parrott’s 1988 recording of the 1589 Florentine intermedi. That famous entertainment was, of course, organised by Cavalieri, who also contributed music to it.

Floral design

Leo: Recorder Sonatas

The Neapolitan composer Leonardo Leo (1694-1744) is best known for his sacred music and for operas both comic and serious, but seven sonatas for recorder and continuo by him survive in a manuscript from the collection of the Austrian Harrach family.

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Pavans and Fantasies from the Age of Dowland

Programming John Dowland’s seven ‘Lachrimae’ pavans in concert or on CD is always a problem. Should they be played as a single sequence or be interspersed with contrasted pieces? They are often grouped in suites with other pieces from the 1604 Lachrimae collection, despite Dowland apparently wanting to avoid conventional pavan-galliard pairs.

Floral design

I musicisti dell’imperatore

The title of this recording is something of a marketing ploy – yes, Piani was one of the most highly paid musicians in Vienna but the violin sonatas on the disc were published in Paris before he was employed by the Habsburgs; Alessandro Scarlatti and Vivaldi’s connection was as composer to a particular residence, but how many times did they actually encounter the emperor?