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1001 classical works (The best) I- 12th-17th Centuries

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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) I- 12th-17th Centuries

Mensaje  JM el Lun Jun 22, 2009 1:11 pm

25. Giovanni Gabrieli - Sacrae Symphoniae
(published 1597, 1615)




Recording

Title: Music For San Rocco
Performer: Gabrieli Consort and Players
Director: Paul McCreesh
Year: 1995
Length: 1 hour 18 minutes

Review

Only a part of this album consists of the Sacrae Symphoniae, but the whole album works so well as it is that I just listened to all of it. This is a huge leap forward in church music, it is epic in scale and the whole aesthetic of baroque is rearing it's head right on top of it.

This is just one powerful collection of music, with the addition of intrumentation, mainly brass to the loud and powerful choirs this is joyous and beautiful music indeed. And it is pretty complex, the interplay of the instruments, voices and choirs makes it pretty interesting to listen to carefully, particularly in the In Eccelsis and the Magnificat.

This is Renaissance music at its most developed and beautiful, and also church music at its most powerful, this is the kind of music that really deserves to be listened to in its original setting, in this case at the Church of San Rocco in Venice. But the impact on you coming from the CD player is good enough to merit an inclusion in your music library.

Final Grade


9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Like composers before and after him, he would use the unusual layout of the San Marco church, with its two choir lofts facing each other, to create striking spatial effects. Most of his pieces are written so that a choir or instrumental group will first be heard from the left, followed by a response from the musicians to the right (antiphon). While this polychoral style had been extant for decades— Adrian Willaert may have made use of it first, at least in Venice—Gabrieli pioneered the use of carefully specified groups of instruments and singers, with precise directions for instrumentation, and in more than two groups. The acoustics were such in the church—and they have changed little in four hundred years—that instruments, correctly positioned, could be heard with perfect clarity at distant points. Thus instrumentation which looks strange on paper, for instance a single string player set against a large group of brass instruments, can be made to sound, in San Marco, in perfect balance.

In particular, one of his best-known pieces, In Ecclesiis, is a showcase of such polychoral techniques, making use of four separate groups of instrumental and singing performers, underpinned by the omnipresent organ and continuo.

Magnificat for 33 voices:


JM

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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) I- 12th-17th Centuries

Mensaje  JM el Lun Jun 22, 2009 1:14 pm

26. John Wilbye - Madrigals
(1598 - 1609)




Recording

Title: The Silver Swan
Performer: Consort of Musicke
Director: Anthony Rooley
Year: 1998
Length: 53 minutes

Review

This is coming from a recording of English Madrigals only a part of it consists of Wilbye's work and that is what I am reviewing. There are some inclusion on this list, particularly in the early music section that I suppose can only be here because it is an English composer.

Wilbye is not that impressive or important in the greater scheme of things actually, his music is a bit of a throwback in the very dispersed polyphonies, and he does not hold a candle to the madrigals of Gesualdo or Monteverdi or to the lute songs of Dowland.

Basically it is some more interesting music mainly because of the somewhat funny lyrics which are almost unintelligible because of the polyphonic quality of the work. But frankly I wouldn't go out of my way to hear it again.

Final Grade

7/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Wilbye is probably the most famous of all the English madrigalists; his pieces have long been favourites and are often included in modern collections. His madrigals include Weep, weep o mine eyes and Draw on, sweet night. His style is characterized by delicate writing for the voice, acute sensitivity to the text and the use of "false relations" between the major and minor modes.

Adieu Sweet Amaryllis, although this is a particularly bad performance:


JM

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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) I- 12th-17th Centuries

Mensaje  JM el Lun Jun 22, 2009 1:18 pm

27. Orlando Gibbons - Anthems
(1600s)




Recording

Title: Anthems by Orlando Gibbons
Performer: The Choir Of Winchester
Director: David Hill
Year: 1989
Length: 1 hour 12 minutes

Review

Gibbons presents us with an interesting collection of Anthems, firstly, reflecting the reformation they are all in English, popish Latin is gone also he shows an extreme control of the anthemic form. There are artists which distinguish themselves due to originality and others through refinement. Gibbons is definitely of the latter category, he is not particularly innovative but he has great command of the musical form.

These anthems are beautiful and the Winchester Choir does contribute to it especially, the voices are as always beautiful and both their diction and interplay is great.

Gibbons is one of the few authors of his era to have stood the test of time, in such a way that some of the anthems in this collection are still regularly used in church. Truly beautiful music even if not particularly innovative... I am about ready for some instrumentals.

Final Grade


8/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

His choral music is distinguished by his complete mastery of counterpoint, combined with his wonderful gift for melody. Perhaps his most well-known verse anthem is 'This is the record of John', which sets an Advent text for solo countertenor or tenor, alternating with full chorus. The soloist is required to demonstrate considerable technical facility at points, and the work at once expresses the rhetorical force of the text, whilst never being demonstrative or bombastic. He also produced two major settings of Evensong, the Second, and the 'Short' service. The former is an extended composition, combining verse and full sections, and the latter possesses a beautifully expressive Nunc Dimittis. Gibbons' full anthems include the expressive 'O Lord in thy wrath', and the Palm Sunday setting of 'O clap your hands together' for 8 voices. He contributed six pieces to the first printed collection of music in England, Parthenia (of which he was by far the youngest of the three contributors), published circa 1611.

O clap your hands:


JM

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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) I- 12th-17th Centuries

Mensaje  JM el Lun Jun 22, 2009 1:22 pm

28. Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck - Organ Works
(c.1600 - 21)




Recording

Title: Psalms From Geneva
Performer: Masaaki Suzuki
Year: 2006
Length: 1 hour 9 minutes

Review

So this is a collection of Organ Works by Sweelinck and even though I am not a particular fan of Organ pieces I can definitely tell why his inclusion is important here. There is a thread going from Sweelinck to Bach and the way Sweelinck's music sounds is very much an underdeveloped form of what the great baroque composers would do with the instrument.

The music is overall bright and airy with an almost Christmassy feel to it, possibly because most organ airy and bright music feels like that. Still, it is remarkably restrained and the flights of fancy never last too long, as would befit a good Calvinist.

The lack of exuberance does not mean that it is simple music, the pieces sound very demanding indeed and Masaaki Suzuki does a great job in this recording, playing Sweelinck on a 17th century Dutch Organ in Kobe. An important piece of music which is more fascinating by what it hints at in the future than really for the excitement of the music itself.

Final Grade

8/10

Trivia


From Wikipedia:

Sweelinck's influence spread as far as Sweden and England. It was carried to the former by Andreas Düben, and to the latter by various English composers such as Peter Phillips, who knew Sweelinck personally. The close connection Sweelinck and Dutch composers in general must have had with the English school of composition is highlighted by a number of facts. For instance, Sweelinck's music appears in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, which otherwise mainly contains the work of English composers. Also, Sweelinck wrote variations on John Dowland's internationally famous Lachrimae Pavane, and John Bull, who was probably a personal friend, wrote a set of variations on a theme by Sweelinck after the latter's death.

Glenn Gould plays the Fantasia Chromatica in D Minor on a piano:


JM

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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) I- 12th-17th Centuries

Mensaje  JM el Lun Jun 22, 2009 1:25 pm

29. John Dowland - Lachrimae or Seaven Teares
(published 1604)




Recording

Title: Lachrimae
Performer: The Parley Of Instruments Renaissance Violin Consort
Director: Peter Holman
Year: 1994
Length: 28 minutes

Review

This work consists of a set of seven variations on Lachrimae by Dowland, we had heard this theme before on his lute songs and it was actually my favourite lute song by Dowland, Flow My Tears.

In this context the work presents a single problem, as the theme track is repeated at the beginning of each quite short variation it can become quite repetitive, but then it is difficult to fault it because the song is just so completely lovely.

Dowland's variations on the song show themselves slowly as the track progresses from the theme onward and these subtle shifts eventually turn it into a completely different Lachrima. It is beautiful music indeed. The rest of the CD contains the rest of the publication of music by Dowland in 1604, and is equally worth listening to. Highly Recommended.

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Flow my tears is a lute song (specifically, an "ayre") by the accomplished lutenist and composer John Dowland. Flow my tears is Dowland's most famous ayre, and became his signature song, literally as well as metaphorically: he would occasionally sign his name "Jo. Dolandi de Lachrimae". Like others of Dowland's lute songs, Flow my tears' form and style are based on a dance, in this case the pavan. It was first published in The Second Booke of Songs or Ayres of 2, 4. and 5. parts (London, 1600). The song begins with a falling tear motif, starting on an A and descending to an E by step on the text "Flow my tears". This may have been borrowed from an Orlande de Lassus motet or Luca Marenzio madrigal, in addition to other borrowings in the piece. Anthony Boden calls the song "probably the most widely known English song of the early 17th century."

Jordi Savall's version of Lachrimae Antiquae:


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) I- 12th-17th Centuries

Mensaje  JM el Lun Jun 22, 2009 1:39 pm

30. Monteverdi - L'Orfeo
(1607)




Recording

Title: L'Orfeo
Performer: Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts with Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Julianne Baird, Lynne Dawson, Anne Sofie von Otter, Nancy Argenta, Mary Nichols, John Tomlinson, Diana Montague, Willard White, Mark Tucker, Nigel Robson, Michael Chance, Simon Birchall, Howard Milner, Nicholas Robertson
Director: John Eliot Gardiner
Year: 1987
Length: 2 CD's, around 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Review

This is the first Opera on the list everyone go yay! Well it is a pretty nifty one, not everyone is a sucker for early operas but I am, I like its renaissance feel, it recovering of old themes into what is essentially musical theatre. And when it is done by the brilliant Monteverdi even better.

Monteverdi's famed love for text would make him an ideal character to create what is the first of what we now call operas to survive down to our days and to still be frequently enacted.

Then you have the music which is actually supremely catching, Monteverdi's use of themes will have you singing bits of the opera to your self after the first listen through, and after 4 which I have had now knowing it all pretty much by heart.

This recording is also beautiful, I actually got a DVD of Jordi Savall's production of the Opera which altough it is interesting and helps you put the music in context is unfortunately much inferior to this audio version. Through this list I will try to see the operas whenever possible because it is quite hard to judge the music otherwise, if there are versions of the audio music in video or DVD so much the better. But get this audio version even if it is for a very expressive Anne Sofie Von Otter as the messenger of Eurydice's death.

Final Grade


10/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

L'Orfeo is marked by its dramatic power and lively orchestration. It is an early example of a composer assigning specific instruments to parts; while composers of the Venetian School had been doing this, with varying precision, for about two decades, the instrumentation in the case of L'Orfeo is unusually explicit. The plot is clearly delineated with musical contrasts, and the melodies are linear and clear; much of the writing uses the style of monody which was pioneered by the Florentine Camerata in the last decades of the 16th century. With this opera Monteverdi had created an entirely new style of music, the dramma per musica, or musical drama. This idea of theatrical works set to music was taken from the notion that the Ancient Greeks had sung their plays.


Vi ricorda ò boschi ombrosi, from the Savall version :


JM

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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) I- 12th-17th Centuries

Mensaje  JM el Lun Jun 22, 2009 2:22 pm

31. Girolamo Frescobaldi - Keyboard Works
(1608 -1637)




Recording

Title: Keyboard Music, Fantasie Book I, Ricercari, Canzoni Francesi
Performer/Director: Sergio Vartolo (Harpsichord and Organ)
Year: 2000
Length: 2 hours 12 minutes

Review

This was really not that much fun, the music is fine as background noise but when you dedicate 2 hours to it it just becomes really boring really fast. This is not to say there are no merits to the music, it sounds modern for its time, but in an exceedingly dull way.

I don't thing there has been a recording in this list until now that has bored me more than this lacklustre collection of music. For all the influence and virtuosity of his compositions they are just dull especially after coming from Monteverdi's Orfeo.

At least they weren't more motets, but I am not a huge fan or organ music as it is and when it is as languorous as this it just kills me.

Final Grade

5/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Sometimes jovially referred to as "Frisky Bald Guy" in musicological circles. A play on his name, it is a fitting description of his characteristically sporadic style of composition, and the receding hairline that is evident in his later portraits.

Canzona Quarta:


JM

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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) I- 12th-17th Centuries

Mensaje  JM el Lun Jun 22, 2009 2:30 pm

32. Claudio Monteverdi - Vespers
(1610)




Recording

Title: Vespre della Beata Virgine 1610
Performer: Taverner Consort, Choir & Players
Director: Andrew Parrott
Year: 1984
Length: 1 hour 40 minutes approx.

Review

This is our first example of Monteverdi's sacred music and it was also his first major religious publication. Monteverdi brings to this many of his qualities as a secular composer, be it his love for the words, sung in a way that you can discern each individual word while not sacrificing ornamentation and Monteverdi's characteristic bright instrumentation.

To see why Monteverdi is great you have only to compare the Gregorian sections to the sections that are embellished by Monteverdi's particular genius. This being said it is a very long collection of music which can soon blend into itself.

Still there are particular stand-outs here, whether it be the epic-sized Magnificat at the beginning of the second CD in this collection or the beautiful short Responsorium which consists of the second track. A very interesting insight into the other side of Monteverdi which also confirms the superiority of his secular compositions.

Final Grade

8/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

The Vespers is a monumental work of music, calling for a choir large enough and skilful enough to cover up to 10 vocal parts in some movements and split into separate choirs in others while accompanying seven different soloists during the course of the piece. Interestingly, solo parts are included for violin and cornetto, but the ripieno instrumentation is not specified by Monterverdi. Additionally, Monteverdi did not specify a specific set of plainchant antiphons to insert before each psalm and the concluding Magnificat. This allows the performers to tailor the music according to the available instrumental forces and the occasion of the performance (the particular feast day's liturgy would have included suggested antiphons that could be chanted before Monterverdi's psalm settings).

Monterverdi's unique approach to each movement of the Vespers earned the work a place in history. The work not only presents intimate, prayerful moments within its monumental scale, but it also incorporates secular music in this decidedly religious performance and its individual movements present an array of musical forms - sonata, motet, hymn, and psalm - without losing focus. The Vespers achieves overall unity by building each movement on the traditional Gregorian plainchant for each text, which becomes a cantus firmus in Monteverdi's setting.

Performed by the Eindhoven Vocal Ensemble, solists and orchestra with baroque instruments:


JM

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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) I- 12th-17th Centuries

Mensaje  JM el Lun Jun 22, 2009 2:33 pm

33. Thomas Weelkes - Anthems
(1610's)




Recording

Title: Cathedral Music by Thomas Weelkes
Performers: Winchester Cathedral Choir, Timothy Byram-Wigfield (Organ)
Director: David Hill
Year: 1989
Length: 1 hour 5 minutes

Review

This is a really beautiful album, even though I am getting tired of church music very fast, but this is a particularly beautiful collection of anthems. Weelkes likes his emotive music, his impressive ups and downs.

The sound is really full here, and the interplay of voices is particularly stunning. It sounds actually more modern than its age and could easily be contemporary with Bach for example, of course this comes from the troubled genius that was Weelkes.

If you liked Tallis this is most definitely a thing to get, and so you should. Unfortunately I couldn't exactly love this album, there is a certain saturation from this list, particularly until we get further on into the mid 1600's with sacred music. And I could do with a bit less of it, and about half the tracks here merit a 9 and the other half an 8... so maybe when I listen to it again in the future it will be a 9... but for the moment it is only an 8.

Final Grade

8/10


Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Weelkes was later to find himself in trouble with the Chichester Cathedral authorities for his heavy drinking and immoderate behaviour. In 1609 he was charged with unauthorised absence, but no mention of drunken behaviour is made until 1613, and J Shepherd, a Weelkes scholar, has suggested caution in assuming that his decline began before this date. In 1616 he was reported to the Bishop for being ‘noted and famed for a comon drunckard (sic) and notorious swearer & blasphemer’. The Dean and Chapter dismissed him for being drunk at the organ and using bad language during divine service. He was however reinstated and remained in the post until his death, although his behaviour did not improve; in 1619 Weelkes was again reported to the Bishop:

Dyvers tymes & very often come so disguised eyther from the Taverne or Ale house into the quire as is muche to be lamented, for in these humoures he will bothe curse & sweare most dreadfully, & so profane the service of God … and though he hath bene often tymes admonished … to refrayne theis humors and reforme hym selfe, yett he daylye continuse the same, & is rather worse than better therein.


"O Lord Arise" by Thomas Weelkes, sung by Quire Cleveland, directed by Peter Bennett. Début concert at St. John's Cathedral, Cleveland:



Última edición por JM el Miér Sep 23, 2009 10:51 am, editado 1 vez

JM

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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) I- 12th-17th Centuries

Mensaje  JM el Lun Jun 22, 2009 2:38 pm

34. Thomas Campion - Lute Songs
(1613- 1617)




Recording

Title: Lute Songs
Performers: Steven Rickards (Countertenor), Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Year: 1996
Length: 1 hour 10 minutes

Review

Thomas Campion gives us 28 Lute songs which are collected in this recording, and although it does have the merit of having been both written and composed by Campion they do not hold any kind of candle to John Dowland's equivalent works.

There are a couple of stand-outs here particularly in the first ten tracks of the album but either through exhaustion of the listener or actual quality, the tracks soon begin to blend onto each other and there is no Fire, Fire, Fire, Fire! to bring your attention back.

So this is actually a pretty unnecessary addition to anyone's library, and I do think this list has a bit too many British composers in it... it never was the Mecca of music until the mid 20th century so there is little need to pretend otherwise by cramming sub-par crap down our throats. With some exceptions (Purcell, Handel etc.) , give me some Italians until you give me some Germans and then give me Frenchies. But Dowland made some hot tracks...

Final Grade

6/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Early dictionary writers, such as Fétis saw Campion as a theorist. It was much later on that people began to see him as a composer.

Why?

Thomas Campion... the album version are considerably better:


JM

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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) I- 12th-17th Centuries

Mensaje  JM el Lun Jun 22, 2009 2:42 pm

35. Thomas Tomkins - Anthems
(1620's)





Recording

Title: Cathedral Music by Thomas Tomkins
Performers: Choir of St. George's Chapel, Windsor, Roger Judd (organ)
Diirector: Christopher Robinson
Year: 1989
Length: 1 hour

Review

This might just be what heaven sounds like... which would be quite boring after a while. This is not to say that Tomkins isn't good, as he is, Thomas Tomkins is a really good sacred music composer, this is one of the best albums we have been having lately of sacred choral music.

A particular highlight goes to the appropriately mournful Then David Mourned but so many choral albums in quick succession do take their toll, this is something to be digested slowly and this is one of the albums that it is worth checking out.

From checking out to adding to your iPod or CD collection goes a step, so you should try it our first and then get it... I'm stuck with the Cd however... the sacrifices I do for blogging. Still, pretty good choral music, and fortunately I am having a pause on chorales for three albums now.

Final Grade

8/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Tomkins wrote madrigals, keyboard music, consort music, anthems, and liturgical music. Stylistically he was extremely conservative, even anachronistic: he seems to have completely ignored the rising Baroque practice around him, with its Italian-inspired idioms, and he also avoided writing in most of the popular forms of the time, such as the lute song, or ayre. His polyphonic language, even in the fourth decade of the 17th century, was frankly that of the Renaissance. Some of his madrigals are extremely expressive, with text-painting and chromaticism worthy of Italian madrigalists such as Marenzio or Luzzaschi.

He was also a prolific composer of verse anthems, writing more than any other English composer of the 17th century except for William Child. These pieces were highly regarded at the time, and are well-represented in contemporary manuscript collections. Fortunately for the survival of his music, his son Nathaniel edited most of it and published a huge collection of it (titled Musica Deo Sacra) in 1668, after his death; much of it otherwise would have been lost during the Civil War.

When David Heard:


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) I- 12th-17th Centuries

Mensaje  JM el Miér Sep 23, 2009 10:56 am

36. Claudio Monteverdi -
Combattimento (1624)





Title: Combattimento
Performer: Le Concert d'Astrée
Director: Emmanuelle Haim
Year: 2006
Length: 18 minutes

Review

And now for something completely different. I have to take my hat off to Monteverdi his stuff is always phenomenal in the context of the age in which he was doing it, this is a clear example of that, not even in Orfeo did Monteverdi make a more expressive piece of music.

And that is the key word here, expressiveness, and that is also where this recording is particularly successful, the performers imbue the work with all the emotion it requires without ever modernising the music.

The musical effects of battle music, horses riding and also expressing Tancredo's emotions is superb, and again Monteverdi has all the credit. I am really impressed by this bit of music and hope it will reflect itself in the future operas of Monteverdi that we will have here on the list. Look out for them.

Final Grade

10/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Il combattimento contains one of the earliest known uses of pizzicato in classical music, in which the players are instructed to set down their bows and use two fingers of their right hand to pluck the strings. It also contains one of the earliest uses of the string tremolo, in which a particular note is reiterated as a means of generating excitement. This latter device was so revolutionary that Monteverdi had considerable difficulty getting the players of his day to perform it correctly. These innovations, like the fourfold division of the strings, were not taken up by Monteverdi’s contemporaries or immediate successors.

Three minutes of Combattimento:


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) I- 12th-17th Centuries

Mensaje  JM el Miér Sep 23, 2009 11:00 am

37. John Jenkins -
Fantasias (circa 1630s)




Title: The Mirrour and Wonder of his Age
Performers: Fretwork, Paul Nicholson (organ)
Year: 1995
Length: Around 29 minutes

Review

Ahh some nice Chamber music to break the vocal nature of most music on the list until now and it is quite pleasing Chamber music at that. Again this is a case of an anglocentric list, this isn't a particularly main composer and the music isn't particularly amazing, just quite pleasant.

The main interesting thing here is how the viol consort is allied to organ and this is quite novel and not something I had heard before, usually in this kind of stuff you have the harpsichord doing the continuo work, but not here.

That innovation aside this isn't particularly impressive or unimpressive, it is pretty, and very competently performed, the music does not sound dry or anyhting I just left me a bot cold, and I am a particular lover of viols. So there.

Final Grade

7/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Jenkins is buried in the nave of St. Peter's church, Kimberley, Norfolk, with this inscription:

Under this Stone Rare Jenkins lie
The Master of the Musick Art
Whom from the Earth the God on High
Called up to Him to bear his part.
Aged eighty six October twenty seven
In anno seventy eight he went to Heaven.
In God We Trust.



JOHN JENKINS (1592-1678) Fantasia-suite for two violins, two violas da gamba, and basso continuo in A minor 1. Fantasia 2. [Almain] 3. Corant Performed by Masques Directed by Olivier Fortin:


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) I- 12th-17th Centuries

Mensaje  JM el Miér Sep 23, 2009 11:02 am

38. William Lawes -
Consort Setts (1630s)




Title: Consorts in Four and Five Parts
Performer: Phantasm
Director: Lawrence Dreyfus
Year: 1999
Length: Around 49 minutes

Review

Now this was an amazing recording, Lawes brings a lot of innovation to some very beautiful music. The music itself is amazing, string consort sets and very lively amazing stuff. But much more interesting than that are the little dissonances and contrasts that Lawes likes to put here.

So finally an obscure Anglo composer who is really worth the right of admission, one of those little pearls that if you never heard about it you really should. The reason why Lawes has been an obscure composer was the fact that dissonance was really not on until much later so he was kind of forgotten after his death.

Very highly recommended music here and one CD I just bought from Amazon, ahead of its time and very, very lovely music.

Final Grade

10/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

William Lawes spent all his adult life in Charles's employ. He composed secular music and songs for court masques (and doubtless played in them), as well as sacred anthems and motets for Charles's private worship. He is most remembered today for his sublime viol consort suites for between three and six players and his lyra viol music. His use of counterpoint and fugue and his tendency to juxtapose bizarre, spine-tingling themes next to pastoral ones in these works made them disfavoured in the centuries after his death; they have only become widely available in recent years.

A suite fro two guitars by William Lawes:


JM

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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) I- 12th-17th Centuries

Mensaje  JM el Miér Sep 23, 2009 11:10 am

39. Heinrich Schütz -
Musikalische Exequien (1636)




Recording

Title: Musikalische Exequien
Performer: The Sixteen, The Symphony Of Harmony And Invention
Director: Harry Christopher
Year: 1998
Length: Around 29 minutes

Review

This is a beautiful piece of German music.... well Italo-German really, the influence of Gabrielli is more than apparent here but then it does have Schütz' distinct touch as well as being sung in the German language.

This recording consists of three tracks which are a Requiem Mass in choral form but with some really good solo singers and a light but effective instrumental accompaniment. The final result is grandiose and touching mournful and joyful at the same times, like a good Requiem should be.

We will start to get more and more German Music and when we get to the 19th century we will have to fend them off with a stick, but if Schütz is a symbol of what is to come we should all be happy for it.

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Schütz's compositions show the influence of his teacher Gabrieli (displayed most notably with Schütz's use of resplendent polychoral and concertato styles) and of Monteverdi. Additionally, the influence of the Netherlandish composers of the 16th century is also prominent in his work. His best known works are in the field of sacred music, ranging from solo voice with instrumental accompaniment to a cappella choral music. Representative works include his three books of Symphoniae sacrae, the Psalms of David (Psalmen Davids), the Sieben Worte Jesu Christi am Kreuz (the Seven Last Words on the Cross) and his three Passion settings. Schütz's music, while starting off in the most progressive styles early in his career, eventually grows into a style that is simple and almost austere, culminating with his late Passion settings. Practical considerations were certainly responsible for part of this change: the Thirty Years' War had devastated the musical infrastructure of Germany, and it was no longer practical or even possible to put on the gigantic works in the Venetian style which marked his earlier period.

Heinrich Schütz - SWV 281 - Musikalische Exequien III:


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) I- 12th-17th Centuries

Mensaje  JM el Miér Sep 23, 2009 11:12 am

40.Gregorio Allegri -
Miserere Mei Deus (c. 1640s)




Recording

Title: Allegri Miserere
Performers: Tallis Scholars, Deborah Roberts (soprano)
Director: Peter Phillips
Year: 1994
Length: 12 minutes 30 seconds

Review

The famous Allegri Miserere sounds at the same time like a throwback to an earlier age, and like something different. It is in essence very conservative, chorales follow Gregorian Chant in a very traditional way. But some of what is done by those chorales, particularly the Soprano soloist is just sublime.

This is not, however how the music has sounded through the years, it reportadely was a lot more ornamental, and there were some mistakes in transcription that made it the unique piece that it is.

That aside however, the way it has come down to our age makes it an amazingly beautiful piece of music. Of of the few unmissable works of what is essentially the late Renaissance although we are now in the Baroque period.

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Although there were a handful of supposed transcriptions in various royal courts in Europe, none of them succeeded in capturing the beauty of the Miserere as performed annually in the Sistine Chapel. According to the popular story (backed up by family letters), the fourteen-year-old Mozart was visiting Rome, when he first heard the piece during the Wednesday service. Later that day, he wrote it down entirely from memory, returning to the Chapel that Friday to make minor corrections. Some time during his travels, he met the British historian Dr. Charles Burney, who obtained the piece from him and took it to London, where it was published in 1771. Once it was published, the ban was lifted, and Allegri's Miserere has since been one of the most popular a cappella choral works now performed. The work was also transcribed by Felix Mendelssohn in 1831 and Franz Liszt, and various other 18th and 19th century sources survive.

Mozart was summoned to Rome by the Pope, only instead of excommunicating the boy the Pope showered praises on him for his feat of musical genius.

Burney's edition did not include the ornamentation that made the work famous. The original ornamentations were Renaissance techniques that preceded the composition itself, and it was these techniques that were closely guarded by the Vatican. Few written sources, not even that of Burney, showed the ornamentation, and it was this that created the legend of the work's mystery. However, the Roman priest Pietro Alfieri published in 1840 an edition with the intent of preserving the performance practice of the Sistine choir in the Allegri and Bai compositions, including ornamentation.

The piece as it is sung today, with a top C, is not authentic. It is the result of an error in the first edition of Grove's Dictionary of Music of 1880, in an article on ornamentation by the musicologist William Smith Rockstro. In it, he wrote out the first half of the verse twice, but transposed the second half up a fourth, as recorded by Felix Mendelssohn when he transcribed it. As a result the bass part leaps from F sharp to C, a progression (known as a tritone) forbidden by the rules of counterpoint at the time when Allegri was working. Sir Ivor Atkins, the choirmaster of Worcester Cathedral, copied the Rockstro verse from Grove's for his English language edition of 1951, and liked what he heard.

Miserere in Salisbury Cathedral:


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) I- 12th-17th Centuries

Mensaje  JM el Miér Sep 23, 2009 11:15 am

41. Claudio Monteverdi -
Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria (1640)




Recording

Title: Il Ritorno D'Ulisse In Patria
Performers: Sven Olof Eliasson, László Anderko, Nikolaus Simkowsky, Rotraud Hansmann, Junge Kantorei, Vienna Concentus Musicus
Director: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Year: 1971
Length: 2 hours 40 minutes (or thereabouts)

Review

I really like Monteverdi's Operas, the context is always epic, the music is always entertaining and it mixes the most depressive characters with (the exception being L'Orfeo) some great comic relief. This opera is no exception.

There are advantages and disadvantages between this and L'Orfeo, it shows that the composer is much more mature, the opera sustains the interest of the viewer and listener all the way to the end (I watched the Harnoncourt Deutsche Grammophone DVD as well as listening to this recording) and is not as top heavy as L'Orfeo.

Nonetheless the fact that this opera is not as dependent on choirs and leitmotifs makes it never reach the heights of singalongability (new word!) of the former opera. The inclusion of very extensive arias, like the one from Penelope at the beggining of the first act also slightly breaks the pace, but in a more interesting way than the long scenes with Charon in L'Orfeo.

All in all it was another very enjoyable opera to listen to and to see as well.

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

This was Monteverdi's first opera for Venice. The opera was very successful in Venice, where it had ten performances, and was then taken to the Teatro Castrovillani in Bologna, and in 1641 was revived in Venice. In Bologna, and most likely Venice as well, the singers were Giulia Paolelli as Penelope, Maddalena Manelli as Minerva, and Francesco Manelli as Ulysses. The attribution of this work has been seriously questioned, however the attribution to Monteverdi still stands. The extant librettos differ significantly from the score, however Monteverdi was known to be a very active editor of the texts he set. The first modern revival was lead by Vincent d'Indy in Paris in 1925. A number of twentieth century composers edited, or "translated", the work for performance, including Luigi Dallapiccola and Hans Werner Henze, and finally entered the opera mainstream in 1971 with performances in Vienna and Glyndebourne, and an edition by Nikolaus Harnoncourt, along with recordings.


Excerpts from another production of the Opera:


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) I- 12th-17th Centuries

Mensaje  JM el Miér Sep 23, 2009 2:37 pm

42. Claudio Monteverdi -
L'Incoronazione di Poppea (1643)




Recording

Title: L'Incoronazione Di Poppea
Performers: Arleen Auger, Della Jones, City Of London Baroque Sinfonia
Director: Richard Hickox
Year: 1988
Length: around 2 hours 40 minutes

Review

This is the last of the operas by Monteverdi and even though it is his most mature opera it is definitely not my favourite one. Although Monteverdi has actually improved his art in making the opera more consistent throughout there are less moments of awe here. Actually there are only two quite awe inducing moments, the death of Seneca at the beginning of the second act and the last aria of the opera, which was probably not even written by Monteverdi but is a later addition.

That being said there is a lot to enjoy here, but it just did not impress me as much, the pace of the opera is quite slow, and the plot even though it is interesting it does not dazzle. The story of the illicit loves of Nero and Poppea is quite a daring one particularly in the way Monteverdi wrote it, seemingly rewarding vice with love.

The audiences in Venice would be aware however that the story does not quite end there, so it isn't as brave as one might think at first. Still it is pretty good I just like L'Orfeo and Ulisse better.

Final Grade

8/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

The opera takes Poppaea Sabina, the second wife of the Roman Emperor Nero, as the heroine of the plot. L'incoronazione di Poppea is Monteverdi's last opera, showing his maturity. The plot by Busenello is a masterwork of irony, on the face of it showing the apparent triumph of Amore over Virtu and Fortuna as promised by the prologue. However, the educated audience of the day would have been aware of the pregnant Poppea's subsequent murder by Nero in a fit of rage. Nero is later succeeded by Ottone as emperor: Poppea could have achieved her objective without tragedy simply by having remained faithful to Ottone in the first place.

It is believed that the opera's florid closing duet between Nerone and Poppea was written not by Monteverdi but by another composer (Benedetto Ferrari).

Pur Ti Miro, the closing of the opera:


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) I- 12th-17th Centuries

Mensaje  JM el Miér Sep 23, 2009 2:40 pm

43. Jacomo Carissimi -
Jephte (c. 1650)




Recording

Title: Jacomo Carissimi: The Judgement of Solomon, Jephthah, Jonah
Performers: Gabrieli Consort and Players
Director: Paul McCreesh
Year: 1986
Length: around 20 minutes

Review

This is the first Oratorio on the list, which means a kind of mini-opera on a Biblical theme, although it is not meant to be performed as theatre different singers take on different characters and sing in character. The from would take on epic proportions with Bach's Passions for example.

For one of the first examples of its form this is pretty nifty stuff, although it is quite a bottom heavy piece. By bottom heavy I mean that you kind of spend the first 10 minutes waiting for the last 10 minutes, not because the first 10 are bad in anyway, they would be great by themselves, but the last two arias by the daughter of Jephte and the choir respectively are so great that they shine like nothing else in the oratorio.

The last choir is a masterpiece in 5 minutes, beautiful, mournful music that is one of the best choir works to have been on the list until now, not even Monteverdi surpasses it. Very highly recommended.

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia on Carissimi:

The great achievements generally ascribed to him are the further development of the recitative, later introduced by Monteverdi, and of infinite importance in the history of dramatic music; the further development of the chamber-cantata, by which Carissimi superseded the concertato madrigals which had themselves replaced the madrigals of the late Renaissance; and the development of the oratorio, of which he was the first significant composer.

His position in the history of church music and vocal chamber music is somewhat similar to that of Cavalli in the history of opera. While Luigi Rossi was his predecessor in developing the chamber-cantata, Carissimi was the composer who first made this form the vehicle for the most intellectual style of chamber-music, a function which it continued to perform until the death of Alessandro Scarlatti, Astorga and Marcello.


Plorate filii Israel,
plorate omnes virgines,
et filiam Jephte unigenitam in
carmine doloris lamentamini :


JM

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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) I- 12th-17th Centuries

Mensaje  JM el Miér Sep 23, 2009 2:43 pm

44. Barbara Strozzi -
Cantatas (1650s)




Recording

Title: Cantates
Performer: Susanne Ryden (soprano), Ensemble Musica Fiorita
Year: 1998
Length: 73 minutes

Review

This is a truly lovely recording, few vocal works until now have been as emotive as this recording of Barbara Strozzi's works. Strozzi comes across as a stupendous composer of beautiful and emotional songs in a large scale and the performance of this recording only makes it more so. Susanna Ryden has an amazingly emotive voice, that of someone who understands and empathises with the text.

This is a truly great album, all the independence of mind and spirit of Strozzi comes across in spades here, and then the music is so beautiful, the Cantatas are just something else, with a very big dramatic sense.

Strozzi never wrote an opera but if she would have done it as well as she made these cantatas we would probably not be talking so much about Monteverdi, so this is a really indispensable addition to your library, unfortunately this particular CD seems to be almost impossible to get by legal means, so there is always eMule!

Final Grade

10/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Until recently, it was believed that Strozzi was a courtesan, since she was unmarried and since her relationship to her father's friends in the Accademia degli Unisoni was referred to as licentious. However, evidence that at least three of her four children were fathered by the same man (Giovanni Paulo Vidman) indicates that she was probably his paramour, or mistress, at least while he was alive. After his death it is likely that Strozzi supported herself by means of her savvy investments and by her compositions. Although she dedicated her publications to several important figures, including Ferdinand II of Austria and Sophia, Duchess of Brunswick and Lüneburg, there is no evidence that these "patrons" directly supported her.

Che Si può Fare, and yes that's a guy:


JM

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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) I- 12th-17th Centuries

Mensaje  JM el Miér Sep 23, 2009 2:45 pm

45. Francesco Cavalli -
La Calisto (1651)




Recording

Title: La Calisto
Performer: Maria Bayo, Marcello Lippi, et al.
Director: Rene Jacobs
Year: 1994
Length: 2 hours 45 minutes

Review

This was a great opera, funnier than anything by Monteverdi (who lacks in the funnies) and musically catchier as well. There is a very obvious distinction between the two composers, Cavalli was composing for the people of Venice, not for the nobility.

The opera is amazing, but really need to be seen to get its full impact, thankfully there is a DVD of exactly the same performers and production which is really worth getting. So do!

You will laugh, you will cry... well maybe not cry but the portrayal of the gods is just so amusing, they are completely human, and not the most dignified kind of human as well, the libretto is just amazing. And then the music is also astounding, props to my man Marcello Lippi who sings a lot of the opera in falsetto as Jupiter gets transformed into Diana, Bayo is also great as Calisto. Unmissable.

Final Grade

10/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

The opera received its first performance on 28 November 1651 at the Teatro San Apollinare, Venice. At the time, the San Apollinare was equipped with complex stage machinery, which the theatre intended to use in the premiere production of La Calisto to impress audiences with stage spectacle. However, the first performances had small audiences, as the run of 11 performances from 28 November to 31 December 1651 attracted only about 1200 patrons to a theatre that housed 400. In addition, Faustini died during the first run, on 19 December.

Juno sends the furies to punish Calisto:


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) I- 12th-17th Centuries

Mensaje  JM el Miér Sep 23, 2009 2:47 pm

46. Heinrich Schutz -
The Christmas Story (c. 1660)




Recording

Title: Christmas Vespers
Performer: Gabrielli Consort and Players
Director: Paul McCreesh
Year: 1998-99
Length: Around 35 minutes

Review

This is a piece which is really interesting in the way that it prefigures the work of Bach, namely his Passions, it is a kind of Oratorio on the birth of Christ, and it does have a lot in common with what Germans would be doing in the next century.

This is never as grandiose as any of Bach's Passions, and it is of course much shorter, but it does have some subtlety that is perhaps lost in the epic Passions. This is a quite smart work in its use of instrumentation in order to represent the various characters being mentioned in the story.

Schutz makes excellent use of recitative in order to link all the different Intermediums which work as Arias here, sometimes choral and sometimes sung by a soloist. In the end the work is not particularly impressive but it is giving us a taste of things to come, and for that it is an important recording performed flawlessly as always by Paul McCreesh and the Gabrielli Consort & Players.

Final Grade

8/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Almost no secular music by Schütz has survived, save for a few domestic songs (arien) and no purely instrumental music at all (unless one counts the short instrumental movement entitled "sinfonia" that encloses the dialogue of Die sieben Worte), even though he had a reputation as one of the finest organists in Germany.


Some kids sing Schutz:


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) I- 12th-17th Centuries

Mensaje  JM el Miér Sep 23, 2009 2:49 pm

47. Dietrich Buxtehude -
Organ Music (c. 1668 - 1707)




Recording

Title: Organ Music 5
Performer: Julia Brown
Year: 2005
Length: 87 minutes

Review

Well this was a really long album of Organ music and although I can recognise its qualities, which are quite obvious I was never a fan of Organ music, and this has not converted me.

Buxtehude is clearly the great precursor of people like Bach when it comes to organ, you can see a direct line between track on this recording and the future Tocattas and Fugues by JSB. Buxtehude has an extremely free style for his time and this makes him all the more original. In that it is quite an admirable recording.

But Organ music is just dull after the first half hour or so, I have actually been to many a Organ concert in my life, as that is the happening thing in my hometown of Evora where there is a great ancient organ in the 12th century Cathedral and there are concerts there all the time for obvious reasons, and it is a beautiful location, but even then you start thinking when is this going to end after a short while. It is just my least favourite instrument in the world, so there.

Final Grade

7/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

The 19 organ praeludia (or preludes) form the core of Buxtehude's work and are ultimately considered his most important contributions to music literature of the seventeenth century. They are sectional compositions that alternate between free improvisatory sections and strict contrapuntal parts, usually either fugues or pieces written in fugal manner; all make heavy use of pedal and are idiomatic to the organ. These preludes, together with pieces by Nikolaus Bruhns, represent the highest point in the evolution of the north German organ prelude, and the so-called stylus phantasticus. They were undoubtedly among the strongest influences of JS Bach, whose organ preludes, toccatas and fugues frequently employ similar techniques.

Tocatta in D by Buxtehude, the process of playing the Organ is actually quite fascinating:


JM

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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) I- 12th-17th Centuries

Mensaje  JM el Jue Sep 24, 2009 11:37 am

48. Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber -
Mystery Sonatas (c.1674)




Recording

Title: The Rosary Sonatas
Performers: Andrew Manze, Richard Egar, Alison McGillivray
Year: 2003
Length: Around 2 hours 12 minutes

Review

This piece, which is alternatively called Rosary or Mystery sonatas by Biber, is probably one of the most impressive pieces of work up until now. This is not only beautiful music but extremely ahead of its time, this remind me a lot more of Vivaldi's works for violin or Bach's Cello Suites than anything previously.

Then the music is great, each of the sonatas represents a mystery of the rosary, hence the name. If you have ever seen a rosary you will have noticed that the beads are in little clusters, well each of these clusters is a mystery and each bead is a different happening in that mystery. Mysteries include the birth of Christ, the crucifixion, resurrection etc. every major supernatural happening in the new testament. Biber makes a sonata for each of the fifteen mysteries, the 5 joyful, sorrowful and glorious ones, well Biber is missing the 5 luminous ones but those were only added by John Paul II, which came a bit later.

Instead of going all traditional and doing a choral work or oratorio around these mysteries, Biber is considerably more abstract and conceptual, he makes some violin sonatas, accompanied by continuo and using scordatura, meaning weird tunings of the violin. Kind of like you will have prepared pianos much later, Biber was using prepared violins. In the resurrection sonata for example two of the strings are switched so they make a cross on the violin. That's cool. Which means of course that this is all incomprehensible music on paper, unless your violin is tuned as it is supposed to be according to that particular piece. This means either you are a fast tuner or you have 15 violins if you want to play this all in a row or in a concert.

Fortunately this recording adds a little bonus track with Manze explaining everything about scordatura with sound examples. The whole work is fascinating and Biber saves the best for last, the Passacaglia which closes the work is one of the best and most beautiful violin pieces of this or any other age.

Final Grade

10/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Biber was born in Wartenberg (now Stráž pod Ralskem, Czech Republic). He received his first position in 1668 as musician in the court of Archbishop Karl Liechtenstein-Kastelkorn at Olmutz. But Biber failed to return from a visit to Innsbruck without permission. On this visit he met the at the time famous violin maker Jakob Stainer, who mentioned him in a later document as "the outstanding virtuos Herr Biber". He was first a violinist at the castle of Kroměříž and the Salzburg court. In 1684 he became Kapellmeister in Salzburg, where he died twenty years later.

His prolific works show a predilection for canonic use and harmonic diapason that pre-date the later Baroque works of Johann Pachelbel and Johann Sebastian Bach. He was known as a violin virtuoso and is best known for his violin works, many of which employ scordatura (unconventional tunings of the open strings).

An excerpt of the Passacaglia:


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) I- 12th-17th Centuries

Mensaje  JM el Jue Sep 24, 2009 11:39 am

49. Henry Purcell -
Anthems (1676 - 94)




Recording

Title: The Complete Anthems and Services 6
Performers: Choir Of New College Oxford, The King's Consort
Director: Robert King
Year: 1992-93
Length: 1 hour 7 minutes

Review

Of the next 12 albums on this list 6 of them will be Purcell, this is just to show you what a significant composer he was, particularly in a British context, we start with a collection of his Anthems. This recording is one of 11 CDs of Purcell anthems, a bit like Purcell Anthems NOW 6.

This is quite admirable music even if it leaves me slightly cold, Purcell was basically jazzing up church music, but adding some pretty good instrumental parts including little symphonies. This has the side-effect, however of making the music lose some of its focus.

Clearly Charles II had problems with his attention span and Purcell does his best to grab his attention here, of course as with all church music this is a bit hard, and unfortunately Purcell manages it more with fireworks than actual beauty in the music itself. The fact that a soloist can sing for 8 minutes and then he says Amen and this huge choir repeats the Amen is really meant to wake you up while dozing of in church... "Oh the anthem is ending, mayhap we have to stand up or some suchest shit" - sayeth his majesty.

An interesting development in church music which does not hold a candle to Biber.

Final Grade

7/10

Trivia


From Wikipedia:

In 1679, he wrote some songs for John Playford's Choice Ayres, Songs and Dialogues, and also an anthem, the name of which is not known, for the Chapel Royal. From a letter written by Thomas Purcell, and still extant, we learn that this anthem was composed for the exceptionally fine voice of the Rev. John Gostling, then at Canterbury, but afterwards a gentleman of His Majesty's chapel. Purcell wrote several anthems at different times for this extraordinary voice, a basso profondo, which is known to have had a range of at least two full octaves, from D below the bass staff to the D above it. The dates of very few of these sacred compositions are known; perhaps the most notable example is the anthem "They that go down to the sea in ships". In thankfulness for a providential escape of the King from shipwreck, Gostling, who had been of the royal party, put together some verses from the Psalms in the form of an anthem and requested Purcell to set them to music. The work is a very difficult one, including a passage which traverses the full extent of Gostling's voice, beginning on the upper D and descending two octaves to the lower.

Here's a nice anthem, not on the disc tough:


JM

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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) I- 12th-17th Centuries

Mensaje  Contenido patrocinado Hoy a las 9:54 am


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