New Classical Music for November

An eclectic collection this time featuring five centuries of music, from sackbut accompaniment to minimalist piano, through Russian-inspired Italian arias and a huge late-romantic symphony.

ClassicalrecentNov14a1The Spy’s Choirbook : Petrus Alamire & the Court of Henry VIII.
I love the history around this collection: “Among the musical treasures in the British Library is MS Royal 8.g.vii, a sumptuous choirbook prepared for Henry VIII and his first queen Catherine of Aragon. It was produced by Petrus Alamire, who not only headed one of the finest musical scriptoriums of the age but acted as a spy for Henry against Richard de la Pole, a Plantagenet claimant to the English throne. The choirbook, gifted to the royal couple in around 1516, contains 34 motets, many of them unique to this manuscript and includes masterworks by the leading French and Franco-Flemish composers of the age including Josquin Desprez, Jean Mouton, Heinrich Isaac, Antoine de Févin, and Pierre de la Rue.” (Container)

ClassicalrecentNov14a2The Art of Fugue, J. S. Bach.
Performed by Angela Hewitt (piano).  Angela Hewitt begins her commentary in the programme notes with, “I always knew that someday I would have to learn The Art of Fugue by Bach. I had rather purposely put it off while performing and recording all the rest of his keyboard music… What I had heard of it never seemed to excite me very much. Neither could I believe that Bach in his final years had at last managed to write something boring.” Needless to say her Art of Fugue project has changed her mind!

ClassicalrecentNov14a3Symphony No. 1, Bruckner.
Performed live by the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in 2012, conducted by Claudio Abbado. “‘Abbado uncovered the radical nature of the work with its fascinating accumulations of intensity and abrupt interruptions… Long and enthusiastic standing ovations at the end for the conductor and orchestra.’ (Die Welt) – The audience experienced Bruckner’s groundbreaking Symphony No. 1 in Lucerne’s new concert hall in a spectacular performance. This uncompromising interpretation of the First reveals the originality of the composer’s musical language.” (Cover)

ClassicalrecentNov14a4Mad Rush: Solo Piano Music of Philip Glass.
Performed by Sally Whitwell. “Philip Glass is that rarest of contemporary ‘classical’ composers – a musician who has revolutionized the way art music is composed and found a massive audience in doing so. As much a pop and cult phenomenon as he is a descendant of Beethoven, Glass’ music has been used in classic films like Koyanisqaatsi… but it’s in his music for solo piano that the essence of his art is revealed. In this groundbreaking album from Sydney pianist Sally Whitwell – the first of its kind ever to be recorded in [Australia] – all of Glass’ finest solo piano music is represented. In an additional Australian angle, the Stuart piano is used, its crystalline tones ideally suited to Glass’ hypnotically beautiful music.” (Catalogue record)

ClassicalrecentNov14a5St Petersburg,  Cecilia Bartoli. “Cecilia Bartoli returns with a new album of eleven world premiere recordings. For the first time she explores the musical treasures of Tsarist Russia when three formidable women wielded power, shaping Russia culturally and politically. The Tsaritsas – Anna, Elizabeth and Catherine the Great – imported composers primarily from Italy, giving birth to the Russian Baroque. These arias of exquisite beauty were discovered by Cecilia Bartoli herself. She embarked on a journey that led her to musical treasures of the Imperial Court hidden and lost for over 200 years. Mostly sung in Italian, the album also offers the first opportunity to hear Cecilia sing in Russian.” (Cover)

Also recently received: Lang Lang, The Mozart Album.