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Archive for the ‘Composers’ Category

JOSEPH HAYDN (1732-1809)

Highly rated composer, Joseph Haydn still remains, in my opinion, underrated compared to Mozart and/or Beethoven. He is, with Handel (and maybe Beethoven), my favorite composer. It will be impossible to sum up all his production within a few posts this week. Like last week for Boccherini, famously nicknamed the Haydn’s wife,  I intend to look here and there at his instrumental and vocal music.

Keen businessman, modest and having a strong humor, Haydn worked from 1761 to his death for the Esterhazy princes, especially under Nikolaus “The Magnificent” (1762-1790). He is mostly known for is symphonies, string quartets, masses and oratorios.

Scena di Berenice (“Berenice, che fai”)

Composed in 1795 for the singer Brigida Banti, the scena (with recitatives and two arias) is considered one of Haydn’s most accomplished dramatic work. Berenice laments her fate after being abandoned by her lover Demetrio. After she describes her woeful state in a recitative, Berenice sings an aria begging Demetrio not to die without her. Her grief continues to grow in another recitative and aria, where she prays that it finally become so great as to “relieve her of life.” Berenice, che fai was premiered (along with Haydn’s Symphony No. 104) on 4 May 1795 at a concert for Haydn’s benefit.

Rene Jacobs and the Freiburger Barockorchester (and Bernarda Fink!) on Harmonia Mundi label, recorded a great version of it. It lasts more than 11 minutes but it is really worthy. The full libretto is available here (no translation alas).

Scena di Berenice (play or download)

For more information

Harmonia Mundi

Amazon.com

Online reviews

Classics Today

Opera Today

Sources for this post

Michael Ruhling, “Haydn in London”, Handel and Haydn Society Program Notes

Marc Vignal, Joseph Haydn, [Paris], Fayard, 1988, p. 467-468, 1227-1228. (French)

Wikipedia

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Parisian Quartets

We are still on Luigi Boccherini. This time, let’s give a quick look to his chamber music. First, an excerpt from the “Musica Notturna di Madrid” Quintet (1780), which was heard in the Master and Commander movie. Then, two movements from the Guitar Quintet no 1 op. 57, published in 1799 in Paris.

Le Concert des nations / Jordi Savall / Alia Vox

Quintet in C major: Passa calle (allegro vivo)

For more information

Alia Vox

Amazon.com

Online reviews

Classics Today

All Music Guide

La Magnifica Communità / Eros Roselli, guitar / Brilliant Classics

Quintet no 1 in D minor: Minuetto

Quintet no 1 in D minor: Allegro assai

For more information

Amazon.com

Online review

All Music Guide

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Another hidden gem. This time, I rather explore with you an unknown work from a famous composer: The Paris Quartets by Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767).

Actually, the name was falsely attributed since they were not edited in Paris or intended for this market at first (The edition name was Quadri a Violino, Flauto traversiere, Viola di gamba o Violoncello, e Fondamento […], not very french). However, they quickly reached Paris and became very popular there. In 1737, Telemann went in the french capital for a 8 months trip and published there a new series of quartets, usually refered to the Paris Quartets no 7 to 12.

For this entry, I will offer you a few samples of a nice CD including the (false) Paris Quartets (nos 1 to 6) played by the Freiburger BarockConsort, on Harmonia Mundi label. Really lovely little jewels.

Concerto Primo in G major: Grave-allegro

Concerto Primo in G major: Allegro

Sonata Prima in A major: Soave

For more information

Harmonia Mundi

Amazon.com

Sources for this post

Andreas Friesenhagen, notes from the Quatuors Parisiens CD

Wikipedia


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Today, let’s give a look to Luigi Boccherini, the symphonist. The most known is  the symphony “la Casa del diavolo” op. 12 (1771), from which I will offer a good version from Europa Galante/Biondi CD. But first, a few samples from two excellent symphonies CDs:

Le Concert des nations/ Jordi Savall / Alia Vox

Symphony in D minor “a più strumenti obbligati” op. 37 no 3 (1787): Allegro moderato

For more information

Alia Vox

Amazon.com

Online reviews

Classics Today

All Music Guide

Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin / Harmonia Mundi

Symphony  no 26 in  C minor: II- Pastorale lentarello

Symphony no 27 in D major:  IV- Finale (presto)

For more information

Harmonia Mundi

Amazon.com

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And now, the Europa Galante version of “la Casa del diavolo”‘s 3rd movement. After a slow start, the devil is in the house!

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LUIGI BOCCHERINI, 1743-1805

Luigi Boccherini is known for his chamber music (quartets and quintets), who is the core of his production . But this composer of talent created also fabulous cello concerti and interesting symphonies as well.

Born in Lucca, in 1743, Boccherini was an accomplished cellist who  received his compositional teaching in Rome. He worked then in Vienna (Burgtheater), Lucca and Paris but mostly, from 1768 to his death, in Spain, thanks to the patronage of Don Luis Infante (1770-1785) and Friedrich Wilhelm II (1786-1797), King of Prussia.

To start this Boccherini week, I will introduce you to excerpts from his cello concerti, a set of twelve composed during 1760’s and early 1770’s.

Cello concerto no 5 in E flat major: Allegro

Cello concerto no 11 in C major: Largo cantabile

Cello concerto no 10 in D major: Allegro e con moto

Accademia Filarmonice Verona / Bronzi / Brilliant Classics

For more information

Arkiv Music

Source for this post

Wikipedia (french and english versions)

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I am back with the hidden gem of the week. This time, I want you to meet Joseph Martin Kraus (1756-1792).

Kraus, born in Miltenberg, in Franconia, studied both music and the law (parental wish). He left for Stockholm in 1778 to apply for a job  at the court of King Gustav III. After unsuccessful attempts, he became vice-Kapellmeister of the Royal Swedish Opera and director of the Royal Academy of Music in 1781. Then, for about 6 years, he traveled Europe, at the king’s expense, to learn about the theatre. It is during this long journey he met, in Vienna, Christoph Willibald Gluck and Joseph Haydn. He also attended the George Frideric Handel Festival in 1785 in London. In 1787, he came back to Stockholm and became Kapellmeister of the Royal Swedish Opera. His protector, the king, was assassinated in 1792. The same year, Kraus died of tuberculosis.

Kraus was a man of theatre, drama and effects. So I thought to give samples from his operatic production.  Aeneas in Carthage was originally composed in 1781 for the inauguration of  the new opera house in Stockholm (it is a retelling of the Dido and Aeneas story but Kraus took some liberties). However the production paused. During 10 years, he worked on this immense opera (a prologue and 5 acts). It was only first performed in 1799, after Kraus’ death.

As for the samples, they have the mp3 format so you can listen directly to them on box.net (no need to download). I present you the overture and 2 other pieces (Tempest and a march)

Aeneas in Carthage: Overture

Aeneas in Carthage: March of the Numidians

Aeneas in Carthage: Tempest

Aeneas in Carthage, Opera Overtures, Ballet Music and Marches

Patrick Gallois/Sinfonia Finlandia Jyväskylä/ Naxos

For more information

Naxos

Amazon

Online Reviews

Classics Today

MusicWeb International

Sources for this post

Wikipedia

Mozart – Kraus

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From Soliman II, performed in 1788 in Stockholm, the overture. An interesting use of turkish instruments.

From Proserpin, composed in 1780, the overture and the first chorus.

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Some Extra Biber

Well, I bought today Biber’s “8 Sonatae a Violino Solo”, published in 1681. I thought it would justified to post some samples since the production value of that double CD (Harmonia Mundi) is terrific.

I took the samples from the Sonata no II (which is actually one movement in all) and from the Sonata Representativa (program music composed around 1669). The performers, Andrew Maze, Nigel North and John Toll are excellent. Still, not all like Manze playing. Judge by yourself.

Sonata II: Variatio – Finale

Sonata Representativa: The Frog

Sonata Representativa: The Cock and Hen

Sonata Representativa: The Cat (meow!)

Sonata Representativa: The Musketeer’s March (well a fast march!)

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For more information

Harmonia Mundi

Amazon.com

Online reviews

BBC

Classics Today

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