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.
During the final years of his life, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) created the monumental body of music that can be considered his “Testament”, comprising the Musical Offering, the Art of Fugue and the B minor Mass. This latter work is a perfect synthesis of all his skill and flair in the art of composition (and essentially in that of counterpoint), as well as his gift for invention and his extraordinary sense of form, structure and number.
If he were so minded, Jordi Savall might hand copies of this CD out to new acquaintances as the musical equivalent of a calling-card. True, he appears here only in the guise of soloist, whereas a more complete portrait would need to include samples of his work as director and conductor; but as an illustration of the range of the viola da gamba, this generously filled disc is exemplary. And although the calling-card might not be handmade, it is the nearest thing to it, since Alia Vox is Savall’s own, newly established label.
With The All-Baroque Box we realize one of our fondest dreams: harnessing the deep catalogue of Archiv Produktion (supplemented on occasion by Decca L oiseau lyre recordings) to create a comprehensive collection of great music from Monteverdi to Bach. The music ranges from huge Baroque (Missa Salisburgensis, Venetian polychoral, Charpentier Te Deum) to intimate Baroque (the Goldberg Variations, Bach cello suites, solo cantatas) overwhelming in its impact and emotional content.
In the Baroque period, there really was no such thing as an "orchestra" as we understand the term today. There were large collections of singers and players brought together for special occasions, but aside from those, an "orchestral" work was anything that required more than five or six players. Bach's harpsichord concertos, for example, can be performed by a couple of dozen string players plus the soloist, or with an accompaniment of one person per part, which is more or less what we get here. These small forces permit an unprecedented transparency of sound and sharpness of attack, even if some weight and body of tone necessarily get sacrificed. It's a perfectly legitimate way to play the music, however, and you won't find it better done than here.
The English Concert is a baroque orchestra playing on period instruments based in London. Founded in 1972 and directed from the harpsichord by Trevor Pinnock for 30 years, it is now directed by harpsichordist Harry Bicket. The orchestra has been led by Nadja Zwiener since September 2007. The English Concert was founded by Trevor Pinnock and others in November 1972. The date of foundation is often given as 1973, probably because they started with seven people and only later progressed onto the orchestral repertoire as their number increased. They were one of the first orchestras dedicated to performing baroque and early classical music on period instruments, their repertoire from then to now ranging approximately from Monteverdi to Mozart…
In 1900 the Stuttgart Hymnus Boys' choir (German: Stuttgarter Hymnus-Chorknaben) was initiated by the Swabian entrepreneur Paul von Lechler. His models were the Thomanerchor Leipzig and the Dresdner Kreuzchor. (…) The Stuttgart Hymnus Boys' Choir has a broad repertoire of spiritual vocal music, especially music by Johann Sebastian Bach and other baroque composers. Parallel to the concerts the musical-liturgical arrangements of masses have a special meaning. About 170 boys and 30 young men come together to rehearse in Stuttgart weekly, because the choir does not have a boarding school. The singers live with their parents and go to school in their hometowns…