François-Joseph Gossec’s name is more often found in history books than on record collectors’ shelves. During his long life (1734-1829) he contributed to opera reform in Paris before the arrival and domination of Gluck, was one of the directors of the Concert Spirituel, and wrote 50 symphonies. In old age he became the foremost composer of French revolutionary themes, and the first anniversary of the fall of the Bastille was commemorated with a performance of his Te Deum that featured more than a thousand performers. The Missa pro defunctis initially had more modest origins. Also known as the ‘Messe des Morts’, it was first performed in 1760, and aroused notable reaction due to Gossec’s use of trombones, a novelty at the time.
The work is an extraordinary curiosity; a child of the heady days just before the French Revolution, Tarare is the famous French writer's only opera and one of the Italian composer's rare French scores. First and most strikingly a work of social and political commentary, Tarare is also an entertaining work of theatre. Salieri's music supports these aims admirably and offers a few memorable moments of its own. As an opera form, Tarare defies easy categorization; it may be best described as a comedic satire dressed in the clothes of a sprawling 5 act lyric tragedy, complete with Prologue and a grand divertissement with dance.
Agrippina was staged for the first time in late December 1709 - or possibly at the beginning of 1710 - at Venice’s Teatro San Grisostomo and met with enormous success, as testified by twenty-seven following performances, a record number even for 18th-century standards. Agrippina’s triumph sanctioned Handel’s definitive investiture as an operatic composer. After nearly 300 years this opera appears as a masterpiece of 18th-century music and an innovative work, considering that when Handel composed it he was just twenty-four years old. The composer’s melodic creativity and sense of theatre are quite remarkable. The cast, conducted by Jean-Claude Malgoire, includes Véronique Gens in the title role.
Catone in Utica (1737), written for the Teatro Filarmonico in Verona, is one of Vivaldi’s last operatic masterpieces. Its splendid score, however, has come down to us incomplete: in fact the first of the three acts is missing. With infinite patience, Jean-Claude Malgoire has reconstructed the missing act, realising the recitative passages complying perfectly to Vivaldi’s stylistic idiom and integrating the missing arias with original arias taken from other operas written by the Red Priest. Thus Catone in Utica is at last available, in a world-première recording, in its complete form.
Mike Patton and renowned French composer Jean-Claude Vannier, who is perhaps best known for his work with Serge Gainsbourg, have come together on the 12-song album, Corpse Flower.
The tone poems of Richard Strauss's early career represent a remarkable extension of the ideas of Liszt and Wagner, and the autobiographical Ein Heldenleben exceeds its predecessors in terms of its demands on the orchestra. Its intricately interwoven sections create a single symphonic movement depicting heroism, love, and ultimately peace.
In 1789, a performance of "Messiah" that was to have a radical effect on the course of the oratorio's performance history was given in Vienna. Baron Gottfried Van Swieten, who later translated and edited the text for Haydn's "Creation", had, as a diplomat in London during the late 1760s, become an ardent Handelian. Among other Handel scores, he took back to Austria a copy of the first edition of the full score of "Messiah", published by Randall and Abell in 1767. Beginning with "Judas Maccabaeus" in 1779, he introduced works by Handel into the annual oratorio series given for the benefit of the Tonkunstler Society, a Viennese musical charity. In 1789, he presented "Messiah" and, for this Viennese premiere, commissioned Mozart to fill out the accompaniments, largely dispensing with keyboard continuo and replacing the tromba parts practically unplayable for late 18th century trumpeters.
Francisco Lopez Capillas was born in 1608 in Mexico City, and studied plainchant and polyphonic composition at the Royal and Pontifical University before assuming the post of chorister and second organist at Puebla Cathedral in 1641. Although most of his significant works were composed toward the end of his life–and thus well into what is generally regarded as the baroque period–the Messe de la Bataille is, like many of his other works, ambiguous in its relationship to the musical innovations that were taking place in the old world at the time.