There are many apocryphal stories in the classical-music world, but the one in which Frederick the Great challenged Bach to improvise a six-part fugue on a theme of the king's own invention is true, and The Musical Offering was, after a period of further reflection, the result. As with all the works of Bach's later years, the work is both great art and a "teaching piece," which shows everything that he thought could be done with the king's theme. The Trio Sonata based on the theme is the only major piece of chamber music from Bach's last decades in Leipzig, and that makes the work and essential cornerstone of any Bach collection. This performance, led by Neville Marriner, is both polished and lively, and very well recorded. At a "twofer" price, coupled with The Art of Fugue, it's the preferred version of the work on modern instruments.
It would be no exaggeration to name Antonio Vivaldi as the “pioneer of the bassoon concerto”. The first milestone in the emancipation of the bassoon, until the beginning of the 17 century exclusively used as a basso continuo instrument, for which the part wasn’t even written out, was a series of nine virtuoso bassoon sonatas published by Giovanni Antonio Bertoli in 1645.
Violinist Joshua Bell and cellist Steven Isserlis are joined by two acclaimed musical forces - pianist Jeremy Denk and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, of which Bell is Music Director – in a landmark joint recording, For the Love of Brahms (Sony Classical). Available September 30, 2016, the new album is a unique project that features works of Brahms and Schumann that Bell calls “music about love and friendship.” Bell, Isserlis and Denk unite here in Brahms’s first published chamber work, the Piano Trio in B Major, Op. 8 in its rarely performed original 1854 version. Isserlis also joins Bell – as violin soloist and director – and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in Brahms’s last orchestral work, the celebrated Double Concerto (for Violin and Cello) in A Minor, Op. 102. Bell, Isserlis and members of the Academy also offer the first recording of an unusual coupling: the slow movement of Schumann’s rarely heard Violin Concerto, in a version for string orchestra made by Benjamin Britten, who also added a short coda.
There are many anthologies of late nineteenth and early twentieth century English music available but this collection from Decca is one of the finest. Neville Marriner directs the Academy of St Martins-in-the-Fields in a programme of popular favourites and lesser known works collected from a number of LP's recorded between 1968 and 1981. The late analogue Decca sound is superb and the orchestra and conductor are totally in tune with the music.
This remarkable romantic melodrama was all but forgotten after it was cold-shouldered by its original Venetian audience in 1835. This completely new performing edition reveals it as a vocal showcase of huge variety. Bruce Ford takes the title role, giving a bravura performance as the Burgundian duke caught in tragic conflict between love and duty. Jennifer Larmore and Elizabeth Futral are the rival leading ladies, whose final confrontation is a duet of exceptional virtuosity.
Some of the most brilliant writing of the 19th century is found in the nine operas Rossini wrote for the Teatro san Carlo in Naples. Ricciardo e Zoraide is the fifth of these, written in 1818. In the opera, Ricciardo, Zoraide’s persistent and ingenious suitor, comes to the rescue and saves her by devious means. Bruce Ford and William Matteuzzi recreate their spectacular tenor partnership of the 1990 Rossini Opera Festival revival. Nelly Miricioiu, Della Jones and Alastair Miles complete a starry cast.
Håkan Hardenberger has earned a reputation of breaking new ground for the trumpet, commissioning works from the world’s foremost composers. On this disc, he shows a different side to himself in arrangements of his favourite songs and film themes.
On this disc, we feature the works of three composers – Vincent d’Indy, Ernst Krenek, and Erwin Schulhoff – who all in the mid- to late-1920s adopted neoclassicism and chose to write works in the neo-baroque concerto grosso style, using a combination of a small orchestra and a small group of soloists. D’Indy wrote the Concert, his last orchestral piece, at the age of seventy-five.