This very attractive release from Channel Classics features the terrific British period instrument ensemble Florilegium in performances of three Vivaldi concertos and two sacred vocal works. The group plays without a conductor and the players' shapely unanimity of phrasing and nuanced expressiveness give the performances the character of chamber music. It sidesteps the metric squareness that can plague performances of Vivaldi and let the music breathe and surge organically. The strings have the slight tartness of Baroque instruments and the overall sound of the orchestra has an appealing burnished sheen. This is relatively obscure repertoire and includes a flute concerto that was only discovered in 2010 and is recorded here for the first time, played beautifully by Ashley Solomon, the artistic director of Florilegium.
This set contains the essential Duruflé, the complete works written for liturgical use, for choir and organ. Maurice Duruflé (1902 - 1986) left a small but highly refined oeuvre, in which the influence of his Catholic faith is omnipresent: a mystical, incense?scented atmosphere of a stained?glass illuminated chapel…
"The EMI Debut series has now been successful in drawing a number of exceptionally promising young artists to public attention, amongst them Thomas Adès and, more recently (and currently particularly newsworthy) the bass-baritone Jonathan Lemalu, hailed by some as the next Bryn Terfel and having just picked up a Gramophone award for best debut disc. (…) Alison Balsom is a player we are likely to hear considerably more from in the coming years and this debut disc will do much to galvanise her already growing reputation." ~musicweb-international
Though Puccini represents the late-Romantic apex of the Italian operatic tradition, his songs are much less well known and, in their pared simplicity and emotional restraint, could hardly be more different from his stage works. The nineteen complete songs for soprano (two in duet with a mezzo) and piano cover themes typical of lyric poetry including life, death, personal resolution, love, nature, home and religious faith. There are also rare salon pieces and examples of Puccini’s secular and sacred juvenilia, written between 1875 and 1880.
This well-planned Naxos programme is carefully laid out in two parts, each of viol music interspersed with harpsichord and organ pieces and ending with an anthem. It gives collectors an admirable opportunity to sample, very inexpensively, the wider output of Thomas Tomkins, and outstandingly fine Elizabethan musician whose music is still too known. Though he is best known for hid magnificent church music, it is refreshing to discover what he could do with viols, experimenting with different combinations of sizes of instruments, usually writing with the polyphony subservient to expressive harmonic feeling, as in the splendid and touching Fantasia for six viols. Perhaps the most remarkable piece here is the Hexachord fantasia, where the scurrying part-writing ornaments a rising and falling six-note scale (hexachord). The two five-part verse anthems and Above the stars, which is in six parts, are accompanied by five viols, with a fine counter-tenor in Above the stars and a bass in Thou art my King.
Virgin Classics assembled an all-star team of chamber musicians to put together this five-disc set of Gabriel Fauré's complete music for strings and piano. Only the String Quartet, Op. 121, by the Quatuor Ebène, was previously released. Fauré's chamber music - with the exception of a couple of short works for cello and piano - isn't as well known outside of France as that of Debussy and Ravel, although the two piano quartets are widely admired.