When Philippe Jaroussky - whose angelic voice seems almost timeless - sings works by Telemann and Bach, it becomes abundantly clear that the sheer emotional force and the purifying power of their music have not diminished one bit over the centuries.
Wolfgang Mozart joined the order of the freemasons at the lodge "Zur Wohltдtigkeit" (Benefaction) in Vienna on December 14, 1784. Mozart and freemasonry seemed an ideal match, and in a little over a year he would achieve the status of "master mason." A small number of works among Mozart's late output was intended directly for use in Masonic lodges, and two major non-Masonic works, the opera Die Zauberflцte (The Magic Flute, K. 620) and the Requiem K. 626, share strong Masonic connections. The best known of Mozart's Masonic compositions is the Maurerische Trauermusik, K. 477 (479a) scored originally for two violins, two violas, clarinet, basset horn, two oboes, two horns, and bass. Mozart later added parts for two additional basset horns and bassoon, resulting in an instrumentation absolutely unique in Mozart's vast output…- David Lewis
Is it fair to say that most born Frenchmen have considered themselves exceedingly fortunate in their nativity? Moi? I didn't enjoy such luck. Neither did Jean-Baptiste Lully, the favorite of Louis XIV and thus the tyrant of French music for thirty-four years. Lully was born in Florence in 1632, but carried to France as a youthful Ganymede; he entered the service of the Sun King in 1653 as a dancer, and he rose to a position of monopoly influence in Louis XIV's court despite his flagrant debauchery and libertine sexuality. Just as Louis declared, that 'he was the State,' Lully could well have said "French Music, it's me!"
The German chamber ensemble Epoca Barocca’s seventh recording on the CPO label is a turn in a new direction, after six repertoire albums devoted to German composers, including Telemann, Hasse, Heinichen, Schaffrath, and Fasch, and a wonderful disc devoted to the underrated Giovanni Benedetto Platti, an Italian who spent most of his professional life in Würzburg. On their newest venture, simply titled Italian Love Cantatas , they team up with Italian soprano Silvia Vajente to present an attractive sampling of Italian chamber cantatas, mostly with obbligato instruments. Some of the music on this album, especially the last movement of the Vivaldi and the Neapolitan works by Mancini and Scarlatti, is pleasant but ordinary. However, the range of color, affect, and emotion achieved by Vajente and the ensemble adds so much depth and beauty that the effect is Baroque chamber music at its most intimate and satisfying.
Alessandro Scarlatti wrote over 600 cantatas, two of which are on this 1987 disc performed by soprano Lynne Dawson and the Purcell Quartet: Correa nel seno amato and Già lusingato appieno. He wrote considerably less keyboard music – and next to nothing compared with the gargantuan achievement of his son Domenico – one of which is on this disc performed by Robert Woolley, the harpsichordist of the Purcell Quartet: the Variations on La Folia. With the chamber cantatas flanking the keyboard variations, this disc is a wonderful program of the elder Scarlatti's art. Though there are some who might argue English soprano Dawson is perhaps too reserved for this repertoire, none would argue that she doesn't have a clear voice and a supple technique. And while there are others who might argue the Purcell Quartet is perhaps too stringent for the repertoire, none would argue they don't play together with consummate ease and they don't accompany Dawson with brilliant mastery. But there are few who would disparage Woolley's blindingly virtuosic and blazingly demonic La Folia Variations.