Baroque

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. [...]

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. [...]

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. [...]

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. [...]

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? [...]

En Suite

This is a marvellous disc. The pairing of theorbo and bass viol is a potent one, sometimes played separately (de Visée, Ste Colombe) sometimes together (Marais). Romina Lischke is a pupil of Paolo Pandolfo and Philippe Pierlot, and she clearly shares with them a very attractive impulsiveness, and a brilliant technique. [...]

J. S. Bach| Motets

This recording of the complete motets by eight singers, cello, double bass and organ continuo is one of the most moving discs I have encountered in a long time. [...]

Bach: Musical Offering

This recording – despite its relative brevity – left me exhausted; there is nothing tiring about the playing, which is absolutely first rate, but the music is just so intellectually demanding, or at least I allowed it to be so, teasing my brain with all its ingenuity! [...]

Bach: Violin Concertos BWV 1041–1043 & 1050R

If your initial reaction (like mine, I confess) was, "oh no, not another recording of these concertos!", time to dispel fears of being anything other than captivated by a series of interpretations that are as finely nuanced without the slightest hint of micro-management as you are ever likely to hear. [...]
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