The Trio Zimmermann’s previous release of Beethoven’s Trios received excellent reviews and won them the BBC Music Magazine’s Chamber Award in 2013. This next instalment shows us the ‘lighter’ side of Beethoven’s chamber works. The Trio in E flat major and Serenade in D major consist of sequences of six and eight movements respectively, with minuets and marches reminding us of courtly music from an earlier period. However, they are far from ‘old-fashioned’. The adventurous spirit of the young Beethoven is plain to hear, in the exceptionally creative use of textures, thematic development and formal innovation. In this music Beethoven gives each instrument an equal importance and a highly individual treatment. A first-class chamber ensemble is required to meet these demands and this is exactly what the Trio Zimmermann offer, comprised of three exceptional soloists.
Pieter Hellendaal is one of those curiously elusive figures from the past, whose life, spent industriously in a musical backwater, left little impression on history, but whose surviving music, although modest in quantity, is of surprising quality. This is the first complete recording of his osagnificant Six Grand Concertos op. 3 (t75g), undoubtedly one of the finest sets of concerti grossi published in England during the eighteenth century, though surely one of the most unjustly neglected today. The son of a Rotterdam candle-maker, Ftellendaal's prodigious talents as a violinist were recognised at an early age when the Secretary of Amsterdam, Mattheus Lestevenon, sent bins (aged barely sixteen) to study in Italy with the virtuoso violinist and composer Guiseppe Tartium…
The 11th son of Johann Sebastian Bach and the youngest to live to maturity, Johann Christian received his early musical training from his father, than whom music has spawned no greater genius. When Christian was fourteen his father died. Thereupon he studied with his brother Carl Philipp Emanuel. Four years later he left for Italy, where he continued his studies and won a patron. Eventually he became organist at the cathedral of Milan and began to compose operas, economically the most rewarding of compositional forms in those days. In 1762 he emigrated to London, his home until his death 20 years later. The "London" Bach achieved immediate renown in England, and within two years was appointed music master to the Queen. Until his health failed, he was the co-organizer (with Carl Abel) of an acclaimed series of London concerts that took place over two decades…
…and the whole production is superbly engineered and presented with Harmonia Mundi's usual care for every detail of production. It doesn't get any better.
The Water Music is divided into three suites which are clearly differentiated by their tonality and instrumentation. The pieces with the lighter, more delicate instrumentation would certainly have been played indoors while the pieces with wind demanded double forces of woodwind and made their fullest effect in the open air. Handel’s other great al fresco work, the Music for the Royal Fireworks, was composed to commemorate the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748. Opus 3 is, in its splendid and resourceful way, music of forceful originality and bold contours, and is derived from many varied sources - opera, anthem, Passion, even Corelli.
This six-CD box set brings together four major concerto sets composed including the most famous Il Cimento dell'Armonia e l'Invenzione awarded pride of place.
The eminently reliable Academy of Ancient Music play their period instruments with consummate zest under their charismatic conductor Christopher Hogwood and these sets date back to the early digital cum late analogue days when the fabled 'L'Oiseau-Lyre' label still produced those lavishly packaged boxes with their distinctive white covers and the wonderful paintings.