Uncommonly Classical

Alfred Bruneau: Requiem; Claude Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande, Symphony / Ludovic Morlot

Posted by on Sep 15, 2014 in Romantic | 0 comments

Alfred Bruneau: Requiem; Claude Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande, Symphony / Ludovic Morlot

This Cypres CD contains two rarities from the late Romantic repertoire by French composers Alfred Bruneau and Claude Debussy. The Bruneau work is his Requiem, first performed in London in 1896. The music of Debussy comes by way of Romanian-born French composer Marius Constant, who was one of several composers who penned suites from the music of Debussy’s opera Pelléas et Mélisande. Alfred Bruneau (1857-1934) was a student of Massenet, who greatly influenced his style, as did Saint- Saëns, Gounod, Chabrier and Wagner; listening to...

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A. Scarlatti: Clori, Ninfa e Amante – Arias & Cantatas

Posted by on Sep 12, 2014 in Baroque | 0 comments

A. Scarlatti: Clori, Ninfa e Amante – Arias & Cantatas

The music of Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725) lacks the representation in the catalog it deserves. The Italian composer, who is probably best known as the father of Domenico Scarlatti, composed over 50 works for the stage (predominately operas) and over 700 chamber cantatas, two of the most popular genres of 17th-century Italy. This recent Stradivarius release offers two of these cantatas and five arias from the composer’s opera Gli equivoci nel sembiante. These are sung marvelously by singer and actress Renata Fusco, accompanied by a...

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Music from 18th-Century Prague – works by Zelenka, Tůma & Orschler / Collegium 1704

Posted by on Sep 10, 2014 in Baroque | 0 comments

Music from 18th-Century Prague – works by Zelenka, Tůma & Orschler / Collegium 1704

A recent release in Supraphon’s Music from eighteenth-century Prague series, this CD is subtitled Bohemian Disciples of Johann Joseph Fux. The music of Fux (1660-1741) does not appear on the disc at all. What these pieces have in common is that each of the three composers, František Ignác Antonín Tůma (1704-1774), Johann George Orschler (1698-1770) and Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679-1745) were all students of Fux. They are also part of a long line of composers stretching from Palestrina through Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, veritably even to...

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French Romantic Cantatas – works by Catel, Boisselot, Hérold & Cherubini / Karine Deshayes, mezzo; Opera Fuoco

Posted by on Sep 8, 2014 in Romantic | 0 comments

French Romantic Cantatas – works by Catel, Boisselot, Hérold & Cherubini / Karine Deshayes, mezzo; Opera Fuoco

The concert going public of 19th-century France was consumed by opera. While composers kept opera stages humming, it wasn’t quite enough and a new genre evolved, one which allowed audiences to get an operatic shot in the concert hall. The scene lyrique, in its ultimate form, was a series of alternating recitatives and arias for a single voice and orchestra. The French record label Zig-Zag Territoires has produced a unique program entitled French Romantic Cantatas which provides an interesting overview of this genre. In addition to a pair...

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The Golden Age of Danish Partsongs / Ars Nova Copenhagen; Paul Hillier

Posted by on Sep 6, 2014 in Romantic | 0 comments

The Golden Age of Danish Partsongs / Ars Nova Copenhagen; Paul Hillier

This splendid album, The Golden Age of Danish Partsongs, should be an obvious acquisition for any listener who enjoys Romantic choral music. It’s been released by the Danish Dacapo label and is performed by Ars Nova Copenhagen under the direction of eminent choral conductor, Paul Hillier. Made up of folksongs for a cappella mixed chorus, these beautiful settings come from nine composers, and span a period from the early 19th-century through the late 20th-century. The music is most enjoyable, and the choir sounds wonderful. The earliest...

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Gems from the Belgian Treasure Trove – Piano Trios by Rasse, Ryelandt and Vreuls

Posted by on Sep 3, 2014 in Post Romantic | 0 comments

Gems from the Belgian Treasure Trove – Piano Trios by Rasse, Ryelandt and Vreuls

A common denominator to the three piano trios on this Phaedra Classics album is each composer’s passionate commitment to the principles of the Romantic era. The composers represented, François Rasse (1873-1955), Joseph Ryelandt (1870-1965) and Victor Vreuls (1876-1944) were all born in Belgium and were active in the early decades of the twentieth century. Like many other composers from this time whose names are little known today, their work does not reflect the upheavals Western music underwent during their lifetimes, but instead, a...

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A German Soul: Devotional Music from 17th-century Hamburg / Ensemble Méridien

Posted by on Aug 27, 2014 in Baroque | 0 comments

A German Soul: Devotional Music from 17th-century Hamburg / Ensemble Méridien

Subtitled Devotional Music from 17th-century Hamburg, A German Soul from Brilliant Classics is a varied program of instrumental, solo vocal and organ pieces dating, for the most part, from the early Baroque. The eight composers represented were all active in northern Germany at some point or another in their careers. Made in 2012, the recordings are all new and the audio engineering is of the extremely high standard we’ve come to expect of Brilliant Classics’ new recordings. Written at a time when the art of organ building and...

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Out of Darkness – An Opera of Survival by Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer

Posted by on Aug 6, 2014 in Contemporary | 0 comments

Out of Darkness – An Opera of Survival by Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer

Jake Heggie is one of the today’s outstanding composers. He has written many fine works and is perhaps this country’s greatest living opera composer. Heggie made a big splash with Moby Dick and was greatly praised for Dead Man Walking. Working again with his long-standing librettist, Gene Scheer, he has produced a stunning work based on the Holocaust. The opera is set in three half-hour sections, each more closely resembling a song cycle than an act from an opera. The first section entitled, Another Sunrise, closely resembles a...

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Michelagnolo Galilei: Intavolatura di liuto / Anthony Bailes, lute

Posted by on Jul 31, 2014 in Renaissance | 0 comments

Michelagnolo Galilei: Intavolatura di liuto / Anthony Bailes, lute

The story behind the two composers whose music appears on this Ramée CD is as fascinating as the music itself. Performed on a ten-course lute by Anthony Bailes, the disc is titled Intavolatura di liuto. Two members of an illustrious Italian family, Michelagnolo Galilei and his father, Vincenzo, wrote the music. The family’s fame has nothing to do with music; a second son of Vincenzo and older brother to Michelagnolo was none other than the renowned astronomer Galileo Galilei (usually referred to only by his first name), himself a fine...

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Fortepiano Sonatas of Felipe Rodriguez (1760-1815) / Josep Roger, fortepiano

Posted by on Jul 27, 2014 in Classical | 0 comments

Fortepiano Sonatas of Felipe Rodriguez (1760-1815) / Josep Roger, fortepiano

Imagine listening to some amazing music, written by a contemporary of Mozart who is not even listed in Grove’s or Baker’s. That is the case with this wonderful CD of the fortepiano works of Felipe Rodriguez. There are very few existing works from this priest who became an organist. Rodriguez, who was very much influenced by the classicism of Mozart and Haydn, most likely also had knowledge of Scarlatti and Boccherini. He was born in 1760 and when he was ten, Rodriguez was placed in the Montserrat Escolania, one of the oldest music schools...

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