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Buxtehude: Membra Jesu nostri

Buxtehude: Membra Jesu nostri


Buxtehude:

Membra Jesu nostri, BuxWV75

Laudate pueri Dominum, BuxWV69

Weckmann:

Kommet her zu mir…


Emma Kirkby (soprano), Elin Manahan Thomas (soprano), Michael Chance (counter-tenor), Charles Daniels (tenor) & Peter Harvey (bass)

Fretwork & The Purcell Quartet

This new release from Chandos’ early music label, Chaconne, focuses on Buxtehude’s seven cantatas, collectively known as Membra Jesu nostri. These are among Buxtehude’s best-known works, and perfectly exemplify the seventeenth-century preference for musical structures that are broadly symmetrical, but subtly varied in detail. Each of the seven cantatas has roughly the same shape: Biblical passages are set for the whole ensemble and enclose stanzas from the mediaeval poem Rhythmica oratio, which are set as arias for reduced vocal forces and interspersed with instrumental ritornelli.

Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu nostri takes the form of a sequence of seven meditations on the crucified body of Jesus, beginning with the feet (‘Ad pedes’), followed by the knees (‘Ad genua’), the hands (‘Ad manus’), the side (‘Ad latus’), the breast (‘Ad pectus’), the heart (‘Ad cor’), and the face (‘Ad faciem’). As such, the work is written from the perspective of a penitent kneeling at the foot of the cross and gradually extending his gaze upwards, meditating on each part of the body in turn. The keys chosen for the cantatas seem to have added symbolic meaning. As the gaze rises, they move from flats to sharps, from C minor to E minor, before finally returning to the opening key to produce a beautifully unified cycle.

On this release the cantata cycle is complemented by Matthias Weckmann’s Kommet her zu mir alle, a setting of the words from St Matthew’s Gospel (11: 28 – 30), in which the composer gives the words of Jesus to a virtuoso bass singer with an impressive range of nearly two octaves, a part here performed by Peter Harvey, and provides him with an accompaniment of two violins, three bass viols, and continuo.

The works on this disc are performed by an excellent ensemble of early music specialists. As exclusive artists, The Purcell Quartet is today popularising the cantatas of Buxtehude in concerts and recordings involving a fabulous quartet of soloists – Emma Kirkby, Michael Chance, Charles Daniels, and Peter Harvey – to which, for the occasion, the group is joined by the soprano Elin Monahan Thomas. The Quartet has also recorded a huge range of music exclusively for Chandos, including works by Purcell, Corelli, Lawes, Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Weckmann, Buxtehude, Leclair, Schütz, Couperin, and Biber, to outstanding critical and public acclaim. The early music specialists Fretwork, the viol ensemble, also performs on this recording.

“In numerous short solo passages Emma Kirkby's singing has its customary authority with text and style...Elin Manahan Thomas is an ideal sparring partner. Michael Chance's singing is typically profound, even if his timbre sound worn at crucial times...Charles Daniels's soft high tenor has a hushed devotional character...The Purcell Quartet play with reliable stylishness.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2011

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Chandos Chaconne - CHAN0775

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Bach - Early Cantatas Volume 3

Bach - Early Cantatas Volume 3

Weimer Cantatas II


Bach, J S:

Cantata BWV21 'Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis'

Cantata BWV172 'Erschallet, ihr Lieder'

Cantata BWV182 'Himmelskönig, sei willkommen'


Emma Kirkby (soprano), Michael Chance (countertenor), Charles Daniels (tenor) & Peter Harvey (bass)

The Purcell Quartet

This 2-CD set with The Purcell Quartet and a distinguished group of soloists is the third in a series devoted to Bach’s early cantatas and the second focussing on the Weimar period. On an earlier release, International Record Review wrote, ‘The Purcell Quartet and guests are most welcome: even the most distinguished of period performers with larger ensembles can’t achieve the intimacy that the forces here have at their disposal’.

Uniquely, but following historical precedent, The Purcell Quartet employs single voices, rather than a choir. The stance is still controversial, but recreates the works as they would have been performed originally, and therefore stands out from the more conventional approach, the product of subsequent developments of massed choral singing. Accompanied by The Purcell Quartet and their guest instrumentalists are the vocal soloists Emma Kirkby, Michael Chance, Charles Daniels and Peter Harvey. Individual vocal and instrumental lines are allowed to be heard to their full effect, which greatly enhances the impact and meaning of the cantata texts.

This programme contains three cantatas dating from 1714, the year in which Bach was promoted to the post of Konzertmeister at the ducal court in Weimar. His responsibilities now included the composition of concerted sacred vocal music, including the writing of cantatas at regular intervals for Sundays and feast days of the liturgical year. Bach performed all three works collected on this pair of discs several times. They are presented here as they would have been heard in Weimar at their 1714 performances. The first two works, Erschallet, ihr Lieder, BWV 172 and Himmelskönig, sei willkommen, BWV 182, have much in common in tone and atmosphere: both are essentially jubilant at the prospect of the heavenly eternity awaiting the good Christian at the end of his life, and the images of the Trinity led Bach to employ three trumpets in BWV 172. In BWV 182 there is, instead of trumpets and drums, an intimate conversation principally between violin and recorder. The jubilant mood of these two cantatas is juxtaposed with that of Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis, BWV 21, which exudes a feeling of despair, only for Bach to bring in trumpets and drums at the end as hope gradually begins to dawn.

The Weimar cantatas of J.S. Bach form an exceptional body of work and it is thrilling to hear them performed in a way that Bach would have recognised, and by artists respected in the early music field. We offer this set at the price of two CDs for one.

“Out to impress, Bach's instrumental imagination soared in these works. …the playing is consistently rewarding, more so than the singing which at its most persuasive is ravishing, but (excepting Peter Harvey) is not without the odd hint of strain. Still there are marvellous things from all, and this version of BWV 21 sustains greater presence than Masaaki.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2008 ****

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Chandos Chaconne - CHAN0752

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Bach - Early Cantatas Volume 2

Bach - Early Cantatas Volume 2

Weimer Cantatas I


Bach, J S:

Cantata BWV12 'Weinen, Klagen, sorgen, Zagen'

Cantata BWV18 'Gleichwie der Regen und Schnee vom Himmel fällt'

Cantata BWV61 'Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland'

Cantata BWV161 'Komm, du süsse Todesstunde'


Emma Kirkby (soprano), Michael Chance (countertenor), Charles Daniels (tenor) & Peter Harvey (bass)

The Purcell Quartet

“The Purcell Quartet - two violins, cello and continuo, augmented by two violas, recorders, oboe, bassoon, and trumpet - reflect the meagre forces available to Bach. The four solo singers combine in a one-to-a-part chorus… With no designated 'conductor', this is chamber music, warmed by the acoustic environment of a London church. The resulting clarity is delightful, more subtle that the similarly scaled Ricercar Consort (Mirare).” BBC Music Magazine, Proms 2007 *****

“This is a well chosen programme, the sound recording is beautiful, and it is an effective advocacy of the one-per-part method.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2007

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Chandos Chaconne - CHAN0742

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Buxtehude - Sacred Cantatas, Volume 2

Buxtehude - Sacred Cantatas, Volume 2


Buxtehude:

Das neugebor'ne Kindelein, BuxWV13

Quemadmodum desiderat cervus, BuxWV92

Nichts soll uns scheiden von der Liebe Gottes, BuxWV77

Dixit Dominus Domino meo, BuxWV17

An filius no est Dei, BuxWV 6

Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele, BuxWV71

Jesu, komm, mein Trost und Lachen, BuxWV58

Herr, nun läßt du deinen Diener, BuxWV37

Jesu dulcis memoria, BuxWV 57


Emma Kirkby (soprano), Michael Chance (counter-tenor), Charles Daniels (tenor), Peter Harvey (bass)

The Purcell Quartet

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Chandos Chaconne - CHAN0723

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Bach - Early Cantatas Volume 1

Bach - Early Cantatas Volume 1

Mühlhausen Cantatas


Bach, J S:

Cantata BWV4 'Christ lag in Todesbanden' (Easter Cantata)

Cantata BWV106 'Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit' (Actus tragicus)

Cantata BWV131 'Aus der Tiefe rufe ich, Herr, zu dir'

Cantata BWV196 'Der Herr denket an uns' (Wedding Cantata)


Emma Kirkby (soprano), Michael Chance (counter-tenor), Charles Daniels (tenor), Peter Harvey (baritone)

The Purcell Quartet

"For sheer brilliance of technique, the Purcell Quartet and friends take the biscuit." International Record Review

“…rhythmically supple performances with generally effective tempos and which demonstrate an awareness of the antecedent styles of Buxtehude and others.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2005 ***

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Chandos Chaconne - CHAN0715

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Britten: Death in Venice

Britten: Death in Venice

An opera in two acts


Philip Langridge (Aschenbach), Alan Opie (Traveller/Elderly Fop/Old Gondolier/Hotel Manager/Hotel Barber/Leader of the Players/Voice of Dionysus), Michael Chance (Voice of Apollo)

BBC Singers, City of London Sinfonia, Richard Hickox

“This recording in Richard Hickox's Britten series is beautifully played and recorded, and in its all-important central role reunites Hickox with Philip Langridge, so compelling in their earlier set of Peter Grimes. Britten tailored the role of Aschenbach so perfectly for Peter Pears's inimitable tenor that it's unlikely any other singer will find it an easy fit. A few years ago Langridge might have been more adept than he is now at handling some of the high-lying lyrical lines, but the compromises in this department are worth making for a singer who's so penetrating in dramatic insight. Hardly a page of the score passes without his vivid delivery opening up some new dimension of the role. As the drama deepens he progressively strips the soul of Aschenbach bare.
His two main colleagues perform to an equally high level. Alan Opie is still in his vocal prime and all seven of his multifarious Dionysiac characters are sharply delineated. The excellent Michael Chance is more ethereal as the Voice of Apollo than James Bowman, and for that reason is preferable by a whisker.
As always, Hickox takes his time over the score, but there's less sense of self-indulgence than in some of his earlier Britten recordings.
He raws playing of high quality and generosity of feeling from the City of London Sinfonia.
Add an exemplary choral contribution from the BBC Singers and a typically atmospheric Chandos recording, and there's no reason to resist.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“...matches and in many ways even outshines the fine model of the original recording...Langridge proves an inspired interpreter of the role of Ashenbach [sic], more passionate than Pears, and in his death scene he is even more poignant...Add to that Hickox's powerful, finely-timed pacing of a work which is largely meditative, and the result is totally magnetic.” Penguin Guide, 2010 ***

“The Pears/Bedford version tends to emphasise the opera's elegiac side… The Chandos… is certainly not lacking in depth. But it also has an incisive clarity matching Richard Hickox's generally more urgent approach to expression and tempo, and the more anguished Aschenbach of Philip Langridge... His riveting intensity is finely supported by Alan Opie's increasingly sinister evocation of the succession of characters who convey Aschenbach to his doom; easily a match for John Shirley-Quirk on the Decca set, as is the new Apollo of Michael Chance for that of James Bowman.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2005 *****

“Langridge is an inspired interpreter of the role of Aschenbach; his performance here is matched by Alan Opie’s sinister portrayal of the six characters who convey him to his doom. Michael Chance contributes an ethereally unsettling Voice of Apollo, and Richard Hickox coaxes out every bit of the score's morbid beauty.” Maurice Millward, Presto Classical, March 2014

GGramophone Awards 2005

Best of Category - Opera

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - May 2005

BBC Music Magazine

Opera Choice - May 2005

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Chandos - CHAN10280

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Bach - Lutheran Masses Volume 2

Bach - Lutheran Masses Volume 2


Bach, J S:

Trio Sonata No. 5 in C major, BWV529

Mass in G major, BWV236

Mass in F major, BWV233


Nancy Argenta (soprano), Michael Chance (counter-tenor), Mark Padmore (tenor), Peter Harvey (bass)

Purcell Quartet

“The absurd prejudice that long deprived us of adequate recordings of Bach's four Lutheran Masses (or short Masses, as they're also known because, in accordance with Lutheran usage, they set only the Kyrie and Gloria) seems finally to have died a death. The Masses' crime has been to be made up almost entirely of paraphrases of cantata movements from the 1720s, yet Bach is Bach, whatever the circumstances, and this is wonderful music which, like the B minor Mass, offers sober old-style polyphonic choral movements of impressive cumulative power alongside choruses of almost physical excitement and clamour and some first-rate arias with instrumental obbligato.
As with volume 1, a one-to-a-part approach is taken, with the four vocal soloists also forming the choir and the Purcell Quartet being augmented by whatever extra instruments are needed. The result doesn't sound at all underpowered, and gains considerably over Herreweghe's typically well-turned but more traditional choral approach in vividness of texture and harmony, crispness of attack and a madrigalian litheness of expressive response.
The recording allows just the right amount of bloom without becoming washy. There are times when the two higher voices sound further forward than the others, and Michael Chance occasionally disappears a bit towards the bottom of his range, but in general this release brings nothing but pleasure both in the music and in the stylish and lively performances.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

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Chandos Chaconne - CHAN0653

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The Sypres Curten of the Night

The Sypres Curten of the Night

Elizabethan & Jacobean Lute Songs


anon.:

Miserere, my Maker

Campion:

Never weather-beaten sail

Author of light

The Sypres Garden of the Night

Danyel:

Griefe keepe within

Drop not mine eies

Have all our passions

Dowland:

I saw my lady weepe

Shall I strive with wordes to move?

Sorrow, stay

Can she excuse my wrongs? (First Booke of Songes, 1597)

Ford, T:

Since first I saw your face

Faire, sweet, cruell

What then is love sings Coridon

Holborne:

Heres paternus

The night watch

Muy linda

Fantasia

Rosseter:

What then is love but mourning?

Shall I come if I swim?

No grave for woe


Michael Chance (counter-tenor), Christopher Wilson (lute)

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Chandos Chaconne - CHAN0538

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Vivaldi: Gloria & Bach: Magnificat

Vivaldi: Gloria & Bach: Magnificat


Bach, J S:

Magnificat in D major, BWV243

Vivaldi:

Introduzione al Gloria, RV 642 'Ostro picta, armata spina'

Gloria in D major, RV589


Emma Kirkby, Tessa Bonner (sopranos), Michael Chance (counter-tenor), John Mark Ainsley (tenor), Stephen Varcoe (baritone)

Collegium Musicum 90, Richard Hickox

“Hickox sets effective tempos in Bach's Magnificat and points up the many striking contrasts in colour and texture with which the piece abounds. From among the many successful features of the recording Stephen Varcoe's 'Quia fecit mihi magna' and the 'Et misericordia' sung by Michael Chance and John Mark Ainsley stand out. Vivaldi's Gloria, RV589 is the better known of two settings by the composer in D major. In this programme it's prefaced by an introductory motet Ostro picta, which may well in fact belong to the Gloria and is here sung with warmth and radiance by Emma Kirkby. Hickox's performance of this evergreen vocal masterpiece comes over with conviction. It's gracefully phrased, sensitively sung and affectingly paced with an admirable rapport between vocalists and instrumentalists.
The sound is first rate.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

*** Penguin Guide

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Chandos Chaconne - CHAN0518

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