The small string ensemble of Oxford Baroque plays the Praeludium with a juxtaposition of sensuousness and decorum…The choir's interjections are fantastically articulate - with gentle use of inégales, gorgeously shaped ornamental cadences and sincere delivery of the texts.
When churches were closed by clerical ordinance on special feast days, Parisians of the mid-18th century went instead to Concerts Spirituels of music ranging from grand motets to intimate chamber music. Mondonville's contributions are exceptional for their unusual timbral mix. They include a dozen Pièces de clavecin avec voix ou violon, the harpsichord parts designed not as continuo infill, but fully self-sufficient, while nonetheless accompanying violin and soprano soloists. Three of them here create a rare and arresting soundscape.
This world premiere recording reveals a new masterwork by the 18-century Italian master Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, brilliantly reconstructed by musicologist Malcom Bruno from the composer's single-movement woks. Most of this music has been lost or forgotten since its creation more the 250 years ago, and most, if not all, has never been recorded.
Bach's St John Passon shows the composer's towering imagination at its most intensely dramatic, moving and vivid. Christ's trial and death are retold by soloists acting as participants in the event but also meditating upon it in reflective arias; the choir's role alters from rowdy mob baying for crucifixion to that of a congregation singing quiet, redemptive chorales. Criticised in its day for being too operatic, the work is now revered for its originality, for its faith and above all for its incomparable beauty of musical thought. The new reading is a testament to the vitality of the choral tradition: all soloists are former or current members of New College Choir. It also presents a new level of authenticity, not only with period instruments but also with boys's voices as Bach would have used at St Thomas in Leipzig.
Tom Cawley is one of the UK’s leading jazz pianists. He has performed worldwide - in major clubs, venues and festivals – with some of the country’s leading artists, most notably Peter Gabriel, with whom he has also recorded two albums and a live DVD. As an artist in his own right he has performed, recorded and broadcast extensively over the last ten years.
Pelham Humfrey (16471674) was a genuine baroque pioneer in the word-setting of English biblical texts, as well as applying elements of French and Italian styles to his work. By the age of seventeen his anthems were evidently in use. He later succeeded Henry Cooke (his father-in-law) as Master of the Children of the Chapel Royal and also became composer to the Court. Humfrey died at the age of 27, but along with Matthew Locke exerted a strong influence on his peers even at his young age, including William Turner, Henry Purcell, and John Blow. The seven symphony anthems included on this recording have been selected from the extant 19 to demonstrate Humfreys range of work in the genre.