Conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt. A fantastic concert celebrating the coming of Christmas, recorded live at one of Austria's finest baroque monasteries. Soloists are Christine Schafer, Anna Korondi, Bernarda Fink, Ian Bostridge, Christopher Maltman. With the Concentus Musicus Vienna and the Arnold Schoenberg Choir.
In terms of emotional impact, Handel's Dixit Dominus and Bach's Magnificat are well matched, both fiery exclamations of religious fervour, both extended works of contrapuntal complexity and soloistic virtuosity, the Bull and the Bear in the ring of one CD. I won't tell where I'd place my wager, but it's high drama to have these two pieces performed together.
Für den kaiserlichen Gesandten in Dresden, Hermann Graf Keyserlingk, sollen die Goldberg-Variationen entstanden sein. Der Graf habe, wie Bach-Biograph Nikolaus Forkel schreibt, die Musik bei Bach bestellt in der Hoffnung, „daß er dadurch in seinen schlaflosen Nächten ein wenig aufgeheitert werden könnte.“ Diese Bearbeitung der Goldberg-Variationen für zwei Gamben setzt die Reihe der schon bestehenden Transkriptionen fort.
At last there is a Haydn Stabat mater within easy reach. The piece is seldom performed and even more rarely recorded, and this despite the fact that it contains some of the composer's most rich and deeply felt writing. One of the few works not written to order (Prince Nikolaus Esterhazy was less than keen on encouraging the sacred duties of his Kapellmeister) the Stabat mater is also one Haydn himself grew to respect highly, and Trevor Pinnock's performance makes it clear why.
At the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy in France in 1815, tributes to the executed Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette were frequently offered, and two of the most important compositions used for their belated memorials were Luigi Cherubini's Requiem in C minor and Charles-Henri Plantade's Messe des morts in D minor. Cherubini's work was performed at a ceremony in 1816, shortly after the monarchs' remains had been moved to the royal crypt in St. Denis, while Plantade's score was revised and performed in 1823 for the thirtieth anniversary of Marie-Antoinette's death.