Archive | Baroque Period

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Frigid Purcell and Lully: Two Chilly Scenes from Baroque Opera

Henry Purcell’s 1691 semi-opera, King Arthur, contains a shivering musical depiction of winter chill. The aria, What Power Art Thou comes from the fantastical “Frost Scene” in Act 3 in which Cupid awakens the “Cold Genius” (the Spirit of Winter) who, frozen stiff, would prefer to just go back to bed: What power art thou, who from below Hast […]

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Heinrich Schiff

Remembering Heinrich Schiff

The world-renowned Austrian cellist and conductor Heinrich Schiff passed away on Friday. He was 65. Schiff leaves behind an extensive recorded legacy, including cello concertos of Vivaldi and Haydn, the Brahms Double Concerto with violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann, and the Shostakovich Cello Concertos, conducted by Maxim Shostakovich (the composer’s son). In 1971, he gave one of the earliest performances of the haunting Cello Concerto by […]

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Nicholas McGegan

Corelli’s “Christmas Concerto”: Nicholas McGegan and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Here is music which evokes the hushed reverence and mystery of Christmas Eve: the Concerto grosso in G minor, Op. 6, No. 8 by Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713). Corelli wrote twelve “concerti grossi,” a popular baroque genre which features a dramatic back-and-forth dialogue between the full ensemble and small groups of instruments. This piece is commonly called the “Christmas […]

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Murray Perahia, Piano

New Release: Murray Perahia Plays Bach’s French Suites

Pianist Murray Perahia’s newest album features J.S. Bach’s six French Suites, written between 1722 and 1725. This is Perahia’s first release on the Deutsche Grammophon label, following a 43-year relationship with Sony Classics and its predecessor, Columbia Masterworks. In the recording’s trailer, he describes the French Suites as “Bach on the highest level”- “delicate” and infused with French mannerisms such […]

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Rachel Podger’s Recent Bach Exploits

Last week, English violinist, conductor, and Baroque specialist Rachel Podger released a recording of J.S. Bach’s The Art of Fugue with members of Brecon Baroque, the dynamic ensemble she founded in 2007. You can hear an excerpt from the recording here. This is the latest in a series of acclaimed Bach recordings Podger has made on the Channel […]

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Mark Kaplan

Mark Kaplan’s Solo Bach Recording

If you’re looking for rare treasures in the form of recent classical music releases, try hanging around your local classical radio host. A few days ago, as the announcers at my local public radio station were clearing their archives of duplicate promotional recordings, I ran across Mark Kaplan’s March release of J.S. Bach’s Sonatas and […]

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Daniel-Stepner

Daniel Stepner Plays Solo Bach

On Monday, we ventured into the monumental preludes and fugues of J.S. Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier. Let’s finish the week with an excerpt from Daniel Stepner’s 2013 Centaur Records release of Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin. Stepner offers period performances of these works, tuning to the lowered A of Bach’s time, and using three fine old […]

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Piano keyboard

The Well-Tempered Clavier: Bach’s Sublime Exercises

For more than 250 years, Das wohltemperierte Clavier has trained the fingers of innumerable keyboard players, and has also trained the judgment of composers seeking to understand the complex relationship between creative freedom and formal discipline. – Davitt Moroney There’s an interesting irony in the fact that the ultimate creative freedom often grows out of rules and constraints. […]

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Fireworks

Five Musical Fireworks

It’s ironic that Independence Day in America isn’t complete without Tchaikovsky’s most famous ode to Russian nationalism: the bombastic 1812 Overture, which was written to commemorate the defeat of Napoleon’s invading army. As we head into the July Fourth holiday weekend, here are five more pieces that bring fireworks to mind: Handel: Music for the Royal Fireworks […]

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Who Needs Trumpets?

Last weekend, I played for a wedding which included a stirring two-trumpet fanfare. This was followed immediately by an outdoor Richmond Symphony concert which featured John Williams’ main title music for Star Wars. Both occasions reminded me of the trumpet’s deeply celebratory and heroic connotations. Listen to another classic John Williams film score, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), and […]

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