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 Recording of the Week  Undeservedly neglected music - John Marsh and Juan de Araujo

Many of the independent labels are still pursuing some really interesting projects - ones that often don’t end up actually making any money, but are really worth doing because they release to the world a wealth of undeservedly neglected music which we otherwise wouldn’t get the chance to hear, and often this music is really worth hearing! Two such recordings are out today – one is in Chandos’ Contemporaries of Mozart Series, and the other is the third volume of Ex Cathedra’s South American Baroque Music series on Hyperion.

The Contemporaries of Mozart series with Matthias Bamert and the London Mozart Players is one of Chandos’s longest-running projects with over 20 recordings in the catalogue. This latest instalment features the music of John Marsh (1752-1828), one of the most prolific composers in eighteenth century England, yet today sadly ignored.

In many ways an amateur musician (he made his living as a lawyer), his symphonies show a clear influence of Abel and J.C Bach with a keen awareness of orchestral colour. Historically he is also a significant figure, devoting much of his life to organising concerts and maintaining detailed diaries. His diaries have I understand now been published (by American publisher Pendragon Press) and I imagine must provide a fascinating and almost unique incite into musical life in Georgian England.

Moving one hundred years earlier and to the other side of the world, Ex Cathedra’s latest volume of Latin American Baroque polyphony focuses on the music of Juan de Araujo. Described by many commentators as the greatest Latin American composer of the age, he was born in Spain in 1648 and emigrated at a young age to South America with his parents.

His remarkable compositional skill is stunningly captured on this disc that includes one of his largest pieces, the triple-choir setting in eleven parts of the first great Vesper Psalm Dixit Dominus. The extraordinary imagination of Araujo in his choice of texts, his sensitivity to word-setting, his melodic, harmonic and textural inventiveness are remarkable, if not breathtaking.

Contemporaries of Mozart - John Marsh

London Mozart Players, Matthias Bamert

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC

Fire Burning in Snow

Ex Cathedra Consort & Baroque Ensemble, Jeffrey Skidmore

Available Format: CD