The early opera of Antonín Dvorák recorded here definitely falls into the historical oddity category. It's in German, not Czech, set to a libretto by a poet long dead by 1870, when the work was composed, and it is unknown why Dvorák would have undertaken such a sizable project. The subject is a British king, Alfred the Great, who also inspired the opera by Thomas Arne that contains Rule, Brittania, and even shows up in the Vikings television miniseries.
Juan García de Salazar was a Spanish Baroque composer from the Basque country who spent most of his career working at Zamora Cathedral; he is so obscure the entry for him in the New Grove doesn't even include a list of his works. Musicologist Manuel Sagastume Arregi has pulled together a number of Salazar's extant movements related to the Vespers service with additional material to create Juan García de Salazar: Complete Vespers of Our Lady in Naxos' Spanish Classics series. It is performed by the Basque ensemble Capilla Peñaflorida and features the period wind group Ministriles de Marsias and the fine baritone of Josep Cabré. There are no stars here, though – everything on Juan García de Salazar: Complete Vespers of Our Lady is done to the service of the music, which is outstanding. Sagastume Arregi's realization of García de Salazar's Vespers service incorporates appropriate plainchant sections taken from a Basque hymnal dated 1692, organ music by García de Salazar's contemporaries José Ximenez and Martín Garcia de Olagüe, instrumental arrangements of García de Salazar's motets, and an arrangement of Tomás Luis de Victoria's Vidi speciosam probably made by García de Salazar himself.
A year after the two hundredth anniversary of Gaetano Donizetti's birth (1797) and 150 years after his death (1848), the Teatro de la Maestranza de Sevilla chose to open its 1998-9 operatic season with four performances of Alahor in Granata, an almost forgotten opera by the composer. This is an event al a huge historical importance since it marks the first time that the opera has been performed in the XXth century. Alahor in Granata was first performed in the Teatro Carolino in Palermo on the 7th of January 1826 but, although the opera was again staged in the same city in 1830, it later passed into oblivion and has never been performed ever since. Up until now, as was the case with many of Donizetti's works, a hundred and seventy two years after its premiére, we had very little news about this beautifull masterpiece's original fate. Perhaps the fact that the music score was never published at the time of its creation, and the fact that Donizetti was to use some of its musical passages in some of his later works, lead us to assume that during his life, the composer gave little or no importance to this operas youthful score.
Even though the sound expanses traversed by ambient music often evoke feelings of horizontality, layered planeness and volatile textures tranquilly billowing out, it is also true that the greater representatives of the genre and its sub-branches – like mountaineers – mostly seek for sky-scraping verticality. Ranking high in the pantheon of atmosphere architects, Rafael Anton Irisarri certainly has nothing left to prove. Since his beginnings over ten years ago, his output has gained a density that very few can boast having reached, establishing a sound that has the power to haunt your nights and the crucial energy to bring your most buried existential dreams out of mothballs.