When he published his two Apothéoses in memory of two great masters of music in 1724-25, François Couperin was asserting his desire to promote a meeting of the French and Italian styles – from a very Gallic point of view, naturally. The idea was to convince the French Muses that henceforth one could say sonade and cantade in their language – a strategy already pursued in the much earlier La Sultane and La Superbe. But, far from blindly imitating his idols, Couperin takes inspiration from their styles and adapts them to his own brio. The result is a delight for all to share with the musicians of Gli Incogniti and Amandine Beyer, whose first harmonia mundi recording this is.
This is music that is very close to Robin Ticciati's heart; he describes Schumann as one of his favourite composers and has often spoken about how important poetry, colour and story are to Schumann's music. Symphony No. 1 'Spring', blazes and sparkles with joy, Symphony No. 2 finds its way carefully through to the safe haven of its final movement, the much-loved Symphony No. 3 ‘Rhenish' moves with huge ease and assurance to a resonant and joyful conclusion. Symphony No. 4 is radical in the way each movement attacks the start of the next movement with barely a pause, and in its minute-and-a-half-long, shimmering and horn-call-filled transition to the finale. Under Ticciati and the SCO it is magnificent, the radical, soaring, disturbing and exhilarating symphony Schumann intended.
Ensemble Marsyas’ recording of Johann Fasch’s finest chamber music demonstrates why the man and his music were so appreciated in his own lifetime. Founding member Peter Whelan and ‘the queen of the recorder’ (BBC Radio 3) Pamela Thorby are the soloists challenged with meeting the virtuoso demands of this engaging music. The four-movement Quartet in B-flat Major for recorder, oboe, violin and continuo is among one of Fasch’s most popular works; full of catchy tunes and contrapuntal ingenuity in equal measure, virtuosity is demanded from all concerned.
The classic Marley album, the one that any fair-weather reggae fan owns, Legend contains 14 of his greatest songs, running the gamut from "I Shot the Sheriff" to the meditative "Redemption Song" and the irrepressible "Three Little Birds." Some may argue that the compilation shortchanges his groundbreaking early ska work or his status as a political commentator, but this isn't meant to be definitive, it's meant to be an introduction, sampling the very best of his work. And it does that remarkably well, offering all of his genre-defying greats and an illustration of his excellence, warmth, and humanity. In a way, it is perfect since it gives a doubter or casual fan anything they could want. Let's face it, the beauty and simplicity of Marley's music was as important as his message, and that's captured particularly well here.