Presto News - 4th July 2011
Bach Motets from Herreweghe
Thirty years after his first recording of Bach’s motets, conductor and scholar Philippe Herreweghe has decided to re-record these wonderful works. Back in 1981 Herreweghe and his Collegium Vocale Gent were one of the pioneering early music groups, and their recording of these motets typically using two or three voices per part was quite a jump from the more typical large choirs which until then had been more commonly heard.
So what has changed in this new recording? Thirty years is after all quite a long time in the development of early music performance practice and does this new recording therefore present another ground-breaking revolutionary reading?
Well, no, not really. There were so many outstanding features in the first recording that such an approach wasn’t necessary or desirable. It is true that much more is known about the performance of Bach’s sacred vocal works now, and in particular a strong indication that one singer per part was common practice. Common practice maybe but Herreweghe doesn’t believe that was always the case. He takes a much more pragmatic view, and as far as Bach’s motets are concerned believes several approaches are possible and indeed necessary to make this music sound its best.
Therefore on this new recording (again with the Collegium Vocale Gent), for some of the motets he uses just one singer per part (Komm, Jesu, komm; Jesu, meine Freunde; and Lobet den Herrn) while in the others he uses two or three voices per part. Similarly instruments are more heavily used in some motets than others, and in the motets written for two choirs the strings support Coro I and the winds Coro II. In these grander more majestic motets these instruments bring much in terms of colours and dynamics to the music and help considerably to reinforce the meaning of the texts (typically ‘praise the lord’ or similar).
Like in his earlier recording, Herreweghe again uses sopranos rather than boy trebles (Bach would only have had men and boys in his choir at the Thomas-Kirche in Leipzig). These motets are fearsomely difficult to perform and whilst there are recordings of the motets available with boys, the technical difficulty means that I’ve yet to hear one that really convinces like this.
These are terrific performances. The single voices or very small choir produce crystal clear textures, and this transparency combined with fine intonation and excellent ensemble produce a really memorable disc. Tempos are generally slightly faster than on his earlier recording, and the fact that it doesn’t sound difficult is of huge credit to the singers.
There is much to enjoy here and you can get a good flavour of this recording via the sound samples below.
Bach, J S: Motets, BWV225-230
Collegium Vocale Gent, Philippe Herreweghe
Chris O'Reilly - email@example.com
4th July 2011
Berlioz Les Nuits d’Été & Handel Arias
Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (mezzo-soprano), Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Nicholas McGegan
In conjunction with the Orchestra’s 30th Anniversary Season, Music Director Nicholas McGegan and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra announce the launch of the ensemble’s own recording label, Philharmonia Baroque Productions.
The label’s début release showcases the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson in a live 1995 recording of Berlioz’s Les Nuits d’été and a live 1991 recording of arias from Handel’s Giulio Cesare, Ottone, Arianna, Radamisto and Agrippina. Hunt Lieberson had a long and fruitful relationship with McGegan and Philharmonia Baroque. The Berlioz is the last of seven acclaimed recordings she made with the orchestra and the first time she ever sang the full Berlioz song cycle in performance. Lorraine was in her element and the result was splendid. These incredibly moving performances are now available to a wide audience for the first time.
Elgar: Piano Quintet & String Quartet
Piers Lane (piano), Goldner String Quartet
Inspired by the rural beauty of the surroundings at his country retreat in 1917, Edward Elgar embarked on the composition of some of his most inspired and imaginative chamber works.
Both the String Quartet and the Piano Quintet are works of great depth and elegance. Their conservative style disregards the compositional trends of the time and displays an unabashed late-romanticism.
Nino Machaidze (soprano), Bologna Teatro Comunale Orchestra, Michele Mariotti
Nino Machaidze is one of today’s fastest rising young opera stars. At only age 25, the Georgian soprano entered the international opera circuit with a spectacular debut at the 2008 Salzburg Festival replacing Anna Netrebko as Juliette in a new production of Gounod’s ‘Roméo et Juliette’ alongside tenor superstar Rolando Villazón.
For this, her first Sony Classical recording, Nino has made a selection of the greatest bel canto and lyric roles. The disc features both arias from her career defining roles, as well as some new additions to her repertoire.
Grażyna Bacewicz: Violin Concertos, Volume 2
Joanna Kurkowicz (violin), Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Łukasz Borowicz
This is Volume 2 of a series devoted to the music of Grażyna Bacewicz who was regarded by Witold Lutosławski as ‘a distinguished Polish composer of the twentieth century and one of the foremost women composers of all time’. Bridging the gap between the neo-romanticism of Karol Szymanowski and the modernism of Witold Lutosławski, she deserves much wider recognition than she has received to date outside her native country of Poland.
Shakespeare - Come Again Sweet Love
Daniel Taylor (countertenor), Carolyn Sampson, Emma Kirkby (sopranos), Charles Daniels (tenor)
Shakespeare – Come again sweet love is a haunting collection of songs and madrigals by some of the great masters of the Renaissance period, including Purcell, Dowland and Gibbons. The theme of the album is “love” in all its many forms, expressed through the poetry of the Shakespearian Era and the music it inspired.
Mozart: Violin Concertos Nos. 1, 2 & 4
Richard Tognetti (artistic director and lead violin), Australian Chamber Orchestra
Completing the cycle of Mozart’s violin concertos, begun on BISSACD1754, Richard Tognetti and his Australian Chamber Orchestra offer us the first, second and fourth concerto, along with two shorter works for violin and orchestra: the Adagio in E major and the Rondo in C major.
Brian: Symphony No. 1 ‘Gothic’
Slovak Opera Chorus, Slovak Folk Ensemble Chorus, Lucina Choras, Bratislava City Choir, Bratislava Children’s Choir, Youth Echo Choir, Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra & Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, Ondrej Lenard
Havergal Brian’s ‘The Gothic’ is a gargantuan work that earned an entry in the Guinness Book of Records under ‘Longest Symphony’. 2011 marks the 21st anniversary of the first and only available ‘new’ recording of the work, and this limited edition slipcase version is released to coincide with the work’s Proms debut on 17th July.
Lully: Armide (DVD)
Les Arts Florissants, William Christie
For any enthusiast of Baroque music, the production of Lully’s Armide at the Theatre des Champs Elysées, directed by William Christie and staged by Robert Carsen, was an exceptional event.
The last and most successful collaboration between Lully and his librettist Quinault, Armide is the ideal of the genre as desired by Louis XIV: a tragic opera that achieves the perfect fusion of music, song and dance. William Christie leads the orchestra and chorus of Les Arts Florissants and a dazzling cast. Stephanie D’Oustrac is the imperious sorceress Armida, overcome by the violence of a forbidden passion.
Also available on Blu-ray.
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