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.
Johann Kuhnau owes his fame today mainly to the fact that he was Bach's predecessor as cantor at St. Thomas's in Leipzig. The 17th and 18th centuries meet in Kuhnau's cantatas, where a heavily text-bound musical language following on from the Schütz tradition is combined with Italian melodies and a late-baroque spaciousness – a combination especially delightful to today's ears. Rounding off the CD are cantatas by Kuhnau’s close friend Vincenzo Albrici.
Gemma Bertagnolli is widely considered one of the leading sopranos in Early Music. Her voice is powerful, lyrical and passionate, always conveying the emotional message of the text. On this recording she joins Collegium Pro Musica and Stefano Bagliano in Cantatas for soprano, recorder and continuo, brilliant works displaying vocal and instrumental virtuosity.
Recorded in the City of London in 2012, this album features the missing cantatas from the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage: the Ascension Cantatas. They were recorded live at St Giles Cripplegate (one of the original Pilgrimage venues) in two concerts entirely funded by the generosity of hundreds of donors across the world, following a heartfelt appeal from British comedian Alexander Armstrong.
The two works on this disc perfectly illustrate a particular type of secular cantata, the so-called ‘dramma per musica’. In such works the libretto is constructed dramatically, and the singers embody various roles, such as gods and other characters from antiquity, and allegorical figures. The parallel with opera is apparent, although the ‘drammi per musica’ do without any scenic element. Bach primarily used the form in works intended for princely tributes or academic festivities: educated audiences could be expected to recognize the characters and literary traditions involved.
Philippe Herreweghe is widely considered to be one of the foremost Bach interpreters of our time. This four deluxe CD-Book collection is part of the Philippe herreweghe Bach Edition, and features key works from the Bach canon. Each set in the series is available at a very special low price and features packaging and liner-notes on a par with the best that harmonia mundi offers. These sets are a rare bargain and a must-have for collectors…
"Johann Melchior Molter was a German baroque composer and violinist. (…) Molter's surviving works include an oratorio; several cantatas; over 140 symphonies, overtures, and other works for orchestra; many concertos, including some of the first clarinet concertos ever written; and many pieces of chamber music. One of Molter's many Trumpet Concertos is the signature piece of C-SPAN's Washington Journal."
In the 17th and the early 18th centuries there were ample opportunities to work as a musician in Germany. Many cities and aristocratic courts had their own chapels. The best musicians were expected to compose instrumental music, music for special occasions like birthdays and weddings, sometimes operas and, of course, religious works. As most music was performed only once and compositions were considered old-fashioned within about ten years, there was a continuous demand for new music. Against this background it is hardly surprising that some of the composers of the 17th and 18th centuries have so far escaped the attention of modern scholars and performers.
Since founding Bach Collegium Japan in 1990, Masaaki Suzuki has established himself as a leading authority on the works of Bach. He has remained their Music Director ever since, taking them regularly to major venues and festivals in Europe and the USA and building up an outstanding reputation for the expressive refinement and truth of his performances.