Saturday, January 28, 2012

Awards 2011 - Baroque - Vocal

Bach: Easter Oratorio; Ascension Oratorio
Retrospect Ensemble/Matthew Halls

David Vernier on Classics Today calls these performances "as fine as - or better than - any in the catalog", while on MusicWeb John Quinn describes the album as "one of the most effervescent discs of Bach's vocal music to have come my way in a long time". Both writers note the joyfulness in the music, so I suppose we shall add a Huzzah! for the Retrospect Ensemble, founded only a couple of years ago and managing to triumph over some very well-established groups. Incidentally, more than one reviewer draws attention to Nia Lewis's extensive booklet note, which spends some time discussing the artistic complications raised by the fact that these are "parody" works based on secular originals. Can you really convert profane music to proper religious music just by changing the words? Steven Ritter on Audiophile Audition gets as profound as perhaps the topic needs: "ultimately I wonder if it matters a hoot... I think that first and foremost Bach was a man trying to put dinner on the table".

Melani: Motets
Concerto Italiano/Rinaldo Alessandrini

Caldara in Vienna: Forgotten castrato arias
Philippe Jaroussky; Concerto Köln/Emmanuelle Haïm

Vivaldi: Ottone in Villa
Sonia Prina, etc; Il Giardino Armonico/Giovanni Antonini

Johann Ludwig Bach: Trauermusik
soloists; RIAS Kammerchor; Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin/Hans-Christoph Rademann
Harmonia Mundi

As I said, some big names here in terms of ensembles, if not necessarily of composers. Melani is Rome-based composer Alessandro Melani (1639-1703), while Johann Ludwig Bach (1677-1731) was Sebastian's cousin - Wikipedia says second cousin, but I think it was more distant than that. As for Antonio Caldara (c1671-1736) and what he did in Vienna, all Wikipedia can tell us is that he obtained a post there with the Imperial court in 1716 "and there he remained until his death". Philippe Jaroussky gives us rather more insight than that. Finally, Vivaldi. You may have heard of him.

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