Vivaldi’s sonatas for violin and continuo follow his volume of trio sonatas, which, like these, paid homage to the acknowledged master of the form, Arcangelo Corelli, but staked out new, personal territory. Michael Talbot’s notes trace the origins of these sonatas in duets and various changes in their editions’ title pages if not thoroughgoingly in the nature of their conception.
Great energy derived from crisp articulation…Tafelmusik’s 13 strings, impeccably in tune, create a taut ensemble while slow movements are treated to beautifully expressive playing…an irresistible buy.– BBC Music Magazine
Everybody will know by now that Elizabeth Wallfisch has a special interest, affection and regard for the 17th- and 18th-century Italian violin schools. She has already recorded much music by the likes of Tartini, Corelli, Locatelli and others with her group, The Locatelli Trio, and also with The Raglan Baroque Players under Nicholas Kraemer. Here is a varied and fascinating collection of pieces by some of the lesser-known composers from a generation or two earlier than those composers.
The violin concertos here are not the familiar pair in A minor and E. Bach composed a number of concertos for orchestral instruments and later transcribed them as keyboard concertos. Reversing Bach’s procedure, Wilfried Fischer has taken the harpsichord versions and from them has reconstructed the originals. BWV 1056 is a transposed transcription of the Keyboard Concerto in F minor (though New Grove identifies the outer movements as being from a lost oboe concerto). The D minor work is also usually heard in its keyboard adaptation. The concerto in C minor for two harpsichords appears in its original instrumentation for violin and oboe, the soloists here being perfectly balanced for clarity of line. It was Tovey who suggested that the A major concerto may have been intended for the oboe d’amore, an instrument pitched between the oboe proper and the cor anglais.
My Ladye Nevells Booke is a collection of 42 keyboard pieces by the greatest English composer of his day, William Byrd. It includes dances, variations, contrapuntal fancies and battle-pieces, and was compiled seemingly from the composer’s manuscripts for Lady Nevell, half-sister of Francis Bacon and third wife of Sir Henry Nevell of Billingbere, who was her second husband. The volume, dated 1591 and handsomely bound, was acquired by the British Library in 2006. It constitutes a significant monument to Byrd’s achievement as a composer for the virginals.
The seven partitas of Harmonia Artificiosa-Ariosa contain some of Biber’s finest chamber music outside of the Mystery Sonatas. They are consistently inventive and delightful. Especially noteworthy is the extended No. 7 in C minor with its lovely Arietta, actually more of a passacaglia/chaconne. No.3 ends with a chaconne structured as a canon in unison over a popular Italian bass line. This is so similar in concept to Pachelbel’s ubiquitous canon that you can’t help wondering if one of them took a cue from the other. Certainly, if wrested from obscurity, Biber’s might give Pachelbel’s a run for its money.
John Dowland's Lachrimae or Seven Tears is a series of seven instrumental pavans in five parts, based on the melody of his lute song, Flow, My Tears, followed by a collection of diverse dances. This famous book of chamber pieces is presented complete by the viol consort Phantasm, which is joined by lutenist Elizabeth Kenny, and their expert interpretations have the characteristic mix of poetic melancholy and courtly elegance that define Dowland's music.
Mendelssohn's complete works for cello and piano fit on a single CD with room to spare, and your collection should have room to spare for the terrific performances contained on this disc. Cellist Elizabeth Dolin and pianist Bernadene Blaha emphasize the composer's classicism and elegance, in contrast to the somewhat wilder spin with which cellist Mark Shuman and pianist Todd Crow suffuse these works. But whereas the latter ASV release is resonant to a fault, Analekta's engineering conveys a more intimate and equally warm ambience that falls kindly on the ears. Dolin and Blaha are never less than equal partners, which is important considering that Mendelssohn treats both instruments as such. (Classics Today 10/10)
It's obvious from the greasy opening blues vibe in "Exodus of Venus," the title track of Elizabeth Cook's first album in six years, that something is very different. Produced by guitarist Dexter Green, this set is heavier, darker, and harder than anything she's released before. Its 11 songs are performed by a crack band that includes bassist Willie Weeks, drummer Matt Chamberlain, keyboardist Ralph Lofton, and lap steel guitarist Jesse Aycock. The tunes are drenched in swampy electric blues, psychedelic Americana, gritty R&B, and post-outlaw country. Cook has been tried by fire these past few years. She's endured six deaths – including her parents – a divorce, a stint in rehab, and more. It slowed her writing to a crawl. Exodus of Venus is her way of telling that story, and as such, its songs often stray from the narrative storyteller's manner she's previously employed in favor of a more jarring poetic style that still communicates directly.