Following in their series of Gramophone Award and BBC Music Magazine Award winning recordings, Gabrieli’s first Handel recording in over a decade is particularly special – recreating in painstaking detail the very first performance of L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, given in 1740, with additional instrumental repertoire including a Handel organ concerto and two concerti grossi. With a reputation as peerless Handelians, Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort & players bring meticulous research to every performance and recording project, and are joined on this disc by a stunning selection of soloists.
Levon Eskenian and the musicians of The Gurdjieff Ensemble feature the music of Komitas Vardapet (1869-1935), composer, ethnomusicologist, arranger, singer and priest, and popularly held to be the founder of contemporary music in Armenia.
Air Supply is known worldwide for swooning the ladies off their feet. This time, Hitchcock and Russell are taking the festive route, recording some of the most beloved holiday classics of all time. The production standards and performances are polished and no less than what you'd expect from the duo, but of course this will not appeal to some. It's an easily accessible and enjoyable album for both casual listeners and die-hard fans of the group's output.
Does music add substance to words or is music inspired by them? Songs of departure and farewell are deeply rooted in the great tradition of British choral music, nourished by ancient myths of testing journeys, wayside transformations and homecomings. The transcendent nature of music and the power of poetry to challenge and alter perceptions of reality – harnessed by English composers over many centuries – flow through a programme that invites contemplation of life and death, of love and loss, creation and eternity. In a journey covering six centuries of musical history, The Sixteen performs a cappella anthems with powerful texts by writers as varied as Edmund Spenser, Christopher Fry and W.H. Auden.
In 1745, the king granted Jean-Philippe Rameau the position of Composer du cabinet du roy, which came with a pension. This new period would see productions in a lighter vein, in collaboration with the librettist Louis de Cahusac, and some of the Burgundian musician's most important masterpieces. 'Zaïs', performed in 1748 on the stage of the Académie Royale de Musique, is one of them. This ballet-héroïque gave French music one of its finest works.
Unlike Rameau's other operatic output, 'Le Temple de la Gloire' has been incomprehensibly neglected on disc and on the stage until very recently. There have been a few recordings of the dances from the opera, arranged into suites, but this is the first recording of the complete work. The libretto by Voltaire involves mainly allegorical, symbolic and mythical characters, but its intention is serious – namely to demonstrate his philosophy advocating tolerance, freedom, the welfare and contentment of the people. Of course these are concepts which few of us would argue with today, but it was a different matter under the absolutism of the 18th century.