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There is only one work here from Telemann’s famous Tafelmusik, the F Major Concerto for three violins, TWV53:F1. But this new release from one of the world’s great period bands is, if not so vast a feast, a musical offering every bit as rich and spicy. More so, perhaps, because the range of solo instruments employed in these concertos is colourful even by the prolific Telemann’s standards.
It’s as difficult to know where to start describing the brilliance of this album as it is to avoid superlatives. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma, mandolin player Chris Thile and bassist Edgar Meyer are masters of their respective instruments. All are fluent in different musical styles and genres. All have collaborated with each other, either as duos or as part of a larger ensemble, on many occasions. All have performed and recorded JS Bach’s works for solo cello or violin to critical acclaim, so one can immediately assume a certain facility and intimacy when playing Bach together.
As with previous recordings by The Binchois Consort – such as Music for Henry V and the House of Lancaster – Music for the 100 Years’ War places a cappella sacred music in its historical context through a judicious mix of scholarship and speculation. The motivation in this case was to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt on October 25, 1415.
Benjamin Britten’s interest in the music of his great Baroque predecessor Henry Purcell extended far beyond basing his Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra on the Rondeau from Purcell’s Abdelazer suite.
“There has never been in the history of music a child prodigy to equal Mendelssohn,” pianist and author Charles Rosen once wrote. “As a teenager, he was a much better composer than either Beethoven or Mozart at the same age.” And yet, as Rosen continues, “Mendelssohn’s precocity was a curse as well as a gift. Because of it, he never matched the extravagance of his greater contemporaries.”
This startling new recording presents a modern form of pasticcio or, as countertenor and project originator Philippe Jaroussky says, a work that was “conceived as a kind of opera in miniature or as a cantata for two solo voices and chorus.” It also reminds us there were other fine operas on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice written after Striggio and Monteverdi’s famous favola in musica. (As there were, of course, before it, such as Rinuccini and Peri’s 1600 L’Euridice.
Australian trumpet player Paul Terracini is an experienced soloist, chamber and orchestral musician, as well as a conductor and teacher. His decision to focus more on composition is borne out by the excellence of the five works for brass ensemble recorded here. The instrumentation is mostly trumpets/horns/trombones/tuba, with the two multi-movement works including timpani and percussion. The odd man out is the Exaudi Orationem Nostram for eight trumpets.
Subtitled The Rise of English Polyphony 1270-1430, this latest recording from The Orlando Consort weaves a rich, stylistically diverse musical tapestry across nearly two centuries of early English polyphony. Originally formed in 1988 to explore repertoire from the period 1050-1550, the UK-based a cappella ensemble – currently comprising countertenor Matthew Venner, tenors Mark Dobell and Angus Smith and baritone Donald Greig – have occasionally branched out into contemporary music.