Vokal musikk

Brilliant Classics

Sang for alle penga! Opera, korverk, lieder og sangsyklus i en rungende, syngende kampanje fra Brilliant.
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Image Fliegende Holländer (Der)

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, The Dutchman
Gottlob Frick, Daland, Marianne Schech, Senta
Rudolf Schock, Erik, Sieglinde Wagner, Mary
Fritz Wunderlich Daland's steersman

Chor der Deutschen Staatsoper Berlin
Martin Görgen, chorus master
Staatskapelle Berlin
Franz Konwitschny, conductor

One of the greatest and most revolutionary composers of the nineteenth century, Richard Wagner transformed the realm of musical drama. Years before his towering successes of the Ring Cycle, Tristan und Isolde and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, he wrote the now lesser-performed The Flying Dutchman, an opera that marks the beginning of Wagner's mature works...

kr 53 (kr 89)
Image Johannes-Passion
J.S. Bach composed his St John Passion during his first winter in Leipzig, in advance of the Good Friday Vespers service of 1724. It is written for an intimate ensemble (much more modest than the scoring of his later St Matthew Passion) and was originally to be performed in the Thomaskirche, being moved to the Nikolaikirche at short notice. The music is a vivid representation of Christs Passion as told in St Johns Gospel, constructed of recitatives and choruses, with commentary in reflective chorales, ariosos and arias. The music is, by nature of the story, inherently dramatic, and tells the story of Jesus death through the words of the Evangelist (tenor), Christ (bass) and a number of smaller roles including Pilate and Peter. Few who attended the service in the Nikolaikirche can have experienced, outside of the opera house, a work on the scale of the St John Passion, one that included such a large proportion of recitative. Today it, together with the St Matthew Passion, is regarded as a masterpiece of devout Lutheran church music, but in its day it must have sounded radical. That being said, the chorales (or hymns) within the work were designed to involve everyone in the performance, and these would have been familiar to the congregation (Melchior Vulpiuss melody, for instance) whether or not they ended up singing them. Some of the most affective moments of the work occur in these chorales as well as in the arias, which are remarkable for their range of expression as well as their instrumentation. Take, for instance, the poignant use of the bass viol in the accompaniment of Jesus last words on the cross in the expressive aria Es ist vollbracht.A masterpiece of expression and theatricality such as the St John Passion requires a masterful interpretation; in this recording, under the baton of Ludwig Guttler who shot to fame as a Baroque trumpeter the Hallenser Madrigalisten and Virtuosi Saxoniae rise to the challenge, giving a technically accomplished and expressive performance (Gramophone). They are joined by acclaimed tenor Christoph Genz in the role of the Evangelist and Egbert Junghanns as Jesus.

kr 53 (kr 89)
Image 2CD+DVD-BOX: Messiah
"John Mark Ainsley sings with remarkable spiritedness throughout, exhibiting an accomplishment and beauty of his articulation in his early numbers which afford constant repetition." (Gramophone)

Unique set that includes also the DVD recording of this master piece by the same performers at a bargain price.

The Messiah was written at great speed by Handel during the winter of 1741--2, and was received to great acclaim its first performance in Dublin in 1742. Charles Jennens compiled the text from the Bible, and the work is cast in three sections. Although a success in Dublin, the work had a less than warm welcome when it was performed in London without its title, and called 'a New Sacred Oratorio' to avoid causing offence to the rather puritanical British public and press.This ruse failed however, and the press were hostile. Jennens and Handel also fell out, as Jennens felt that the composer hadn't taken enough time and care over the music! This was a low point for Handel, and he seriously contemplated leaving the UK and returning to Germany. Eventually, after a few years, and after a series of performances for charitable causes, the work became a firm favourite. It has been linked ever since with the composer's generous charitable donations to the Foundling Hospital, of which he was a director along with William Hogarth and Thomas Coram. Messiah is the masterpiece of the English Baroque, and for 200 years has been performed by both professional and amateur choirs around the world. Handel's gift for truly memorable tunes and (notwithstanding Jennens's concerns) the care he took in setting the text have ensured that it has remained one of the most famous works ever composed.

kr 59 (kr 99)
Image Secular Choruses
In the field of choral music Tchaikovsky is known as the first Russian composer to have composed cycles of the Liturgy and the Vespers, but his considerable output of secular choral music is less well-known, and a delightful surprise. These secular choruses are little jewels, written for various types of choir, with all the familiar qualities of melody and rich harmony that we associate with Tchaikovsky. Some, including Autumn, Child's Song and A Legend (from 16 Children's Songs Op.54), and the pastoral Dawn were written for solo voice or duet, and Night, a vocal quartet with piano, but Tchaikovsky soon realised that they sounded better as choruses. Autumn and Child's Song both have a tenor solo, and contrast well with each other: a misty autumnal poem of lethargic melancholy and a comical, playful little ditty. Another highlight is the melancholy Old French Air, with its timeless charm, which also appears as a minstrel's song in Tchaikovsky's opera The Maid of Orléans. Other works of note include the radiant Nature and Love, a sentimental trio for soprano, mezzo and contralto, three-part female chorus and piano, and the meditative nocturne Before Sleep, composed in his student years. Greeting to Anton Rubinstein is an extraordinary seven part piece written for the 50th anniversary of Rubinstein's career.

The Nightingale is without a doubt Tchaikovsky's finest achievement in choral music, a magnificent reconstruction of a folk song. The vocal quartet Night is a tribute to Mozart, who Tchaikovsky idolised, and is an arrangement of the middle section of Mozart's Fantasy in C minor for piano. The finale, Neapolitan Air, is a little choral divertissement whose tune was derived from Swan Lake.

About the performers:
The Moscow Academy of Choral Singing, directed by Victor Popov, specialises in performing Russian choral music.

kr 53 (kr 89)
Image 6CD-BOX: Choral Works
Brahms's choral music ranges from the severe magnificence of the Fest- und Gedenk-sprüche to the ravishing opulence of the Op.17 Songs for female voices, horns and harp. Brahms conducted amateur choirs throughout his professional life, both as a useful source of income and because he enjoyed his contact with enthusiastic, amateur music-makers, not least the ladies in his various choirs. It also gave him a chance to explore music of former eras, by Bach, Schütz, Buxtehude and more, which Brahms considered a vital part of his musical heritage and which, practically speaking, he was bringing back to life in a culture that barely knew its own history. We may with some justice speak of Brahms the period-instrument pioneer.

These splendid modern performances come from a choir of a similar size to the one Brahms would have recognised, and are directed by the experienced choral trainer Nicol Matt.

Other information
- CD-ROM with notes and texts

kr 119 (kr 199)
Image The Song Collection
Schuberts song cycle Winterreise is recognised as being one of his greatest works, darker and more complex than Die schöne Mullerin. Wilhelm Mullers poetry, recounting the tale of a lovesick wanderer, has admittedly never been acclaimed as more than somewhat banal; moving, at best, but hardly reaching the literary heights of Goethe. However, it takes on new heights when matched with Schuberts music, elevated to a whole new art form. Indeed, it is notably more mature than Die schöne Mullerin; Schuberts predilection for through-composition rather than a strophic structure and his masterful use of major-minor colouring reveals his confidence in his writing, as he moves decisively away from older forms based on Beethoven and Mozart, foreshadowing the Wagnerian era. Schuberts last works before his tragically early death at the age of 31 Lieder on poetry by Heine and Rellstab were gathered together by his publisher with the addition of Die Taubenpost to create chwanengesang. The composers Swan Song is therefore not so much a coherent song cycle in the style of Winterreise, but still contains some of the composers most original music, borne of Schuberts encounter with Heinrich Heines poetry, which deals primarily with the theme of loves torment. This release also includes various other Lieder chosen from the 600 Schubert composed throughout his life. Inspired by his close friendships with poets of the day, Schubert set several songs to words by Johann Mayrhofer and Franz von Schober. Although similar themes of love and loss tend to appear frequently, Schubert manages to make one love song quite unlike another, exemplifying fully why he deserves his reputation as master of Lieder writing.This release brings together old recordings by stalwart Schubert interpreters Robert Holl and Ellen van Lier, accompanied by Konrad Richter, David Lutz and Naum Grubert (a mature, thoughtful Schubertian, Gramophone).

kr 113 (kr 189)
Image 5CD-BOX: Choral Classics from Cambridge
This set of 5 CDs showcases the celebrated choral music tradition that is at the heart of Cambridge's Clare College, King's College and St John's College. Featuring a collection of popular choral favourites from composers such as Mozart, Elgar, Mendelssohn, Brahms and Purcell, and an in-depth exploration of Renaissance lamentations, this set also features a recording of Evensong and Vespers at King's, evoking the college's tradition of daily choral singing.

kr 95 (kr 159)
Image Per Anni Circulum, Gregorian Chant
Schola Gregoriana Benedetto XVI / Don Nicola Bellinazzo

This new recording of Gregorian Chant presents a journey through the complete Liturgical Year: Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter and Ordinary Time, the ever-recurring spiritual cycle, caught in the timeless medieval melodies of Gregorian Chant, as it was and as it always will be.

Sung with devotion and clear intonation by the Schola Gregoriana Benedetto XVI from Bologna, and recorded in the spacious and warm acoustics of the St. Christina’s Church in Bologna.

The booklet contains excellent liner notes as well as the sung texts.

kr 53 (kr 89)
Image Sacred Music (4 CD)
Dufay Ensemble

4 CD with sacred vocal music by a master of the Flemish School of Polyphonists, Jakobus Vaet (1529-1567).

Little is known about Vaet’s early years. We find him as Kapellmeister of the Hapsburg emperor Maximilian II in Vienna, where he was in high regard.

Vaet may be considered the link between Josquin Desprez and Palestrina. His polyphony, influenced by Clemens non Papa and Orlando di Lasso, is highly cultivated, and allows some daring dissonances. This substantial collection contains Masses, Motets, a Magnificat and a Requiem.

Excellent performances by the Dufay Ensemble, conducted by Eckehard Kiem, previously issued on the Ars Musici label, and awarded with several international prizes, among which a Diapason d’Or.

The booklet contains extensive liner notes and the original texts.

kr 83 (kr 139)
Image Vespro della beata Vergine
Ensemble San Felice, La Pifaresca / Federico Bardazzi

An enduring masterpiece of early Baroque sacred music, Monteverdi’s Vespro della Beata Vergine (known in English as ‘Vespers’) was the most ambitious religious or vocal work to be written before the time of J.S. Bach, calling for a large chorus, soloists and orchestra and employing an innovative array of musical forms. Contrasting the contemplative cantus firmus underpinning the entire work (Dixit Dominus, Laetatus Sum) with moments of dazzling theatricality (Nisi Dominus, Deus in Adiutorium), Monteverdi looks to the future of dramatic music whilst staying true to the work’s Gregorian bloodline.

Under the guidance of director Federico Bardazzi, Ensemble Felice bring their scrupulous scholarship to the many interpretative decisions to be made, as the order of movements and much of the orchestration is left to the performers’ discretion. Grounded in research into the

historical context and practices surrounding the work, Bardazzi has chosen to structure it by placing motets between the prescribed sequence of psalms. The quietude of the motets provides a wonderful contrast to these often grandiose choral movements, and the placing of the Sicut erat towards the end makes a fitting climax to the entire work. Ensemble Felice also come with a full compliment of Monteverdi’s intended orchestral forces including a 30-strong choir, full orchestra and specially invited brass ensemble La Pifarescha. Working closely with the non-metric Latin text, the ensemble use changes of character, rhythm and metre to maximise its expressive potential. With performances on period instruments, authentic renditions of Gregorian chants and an attention to detail that even retunes concert pitch to its more historically accurate version, this is a faithful recording of a supreme work.

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Image Lieder
kr 53 (kr 89)
Image Lieder
The flowering of the German Lied tradition may be most closely associated with Schubert, but in fact the genre has much deeper roots than that. Already in the 18th century, composers such as C.P.E. Bach were forming a musical language that would set the stage for its extensive development 100 years later. At this point, they made a distinction between the 'Lied', 'Ode' and 'Hymne'; Bach strongly preferred the Lied (or song), which was composed in verses, and required an accompaniment, unlike the ode. Indeed, Bach's keyboard accompaniments were so wonderfully florid that they could be performed without the singer – as 'Handstücke', as he marked in the score. This new recording includes versions of each Lied for fortepiano solo alone alongside the standard version with the soprano, giving the listener a unique chance to experience Bach's Lieder in two different but equally authentic ways. Soprano Mariví Blasco has performed at prestigious venues across Spain, in roles as varied as Mozart (Despina in Così fan tutte at the Teatro Arenal) and Poulenc (in Dialogues des Carmélites at the Teatro Real). This is her first collaboration with renowned keyboardist Yago Mahúgo, already a prominent recording artist with Brilliant Classics, whose CDs have previously garnered high praise. A specialist in historical performance practice, Mahúgo performs on a fortepiano by Keith Hill, modelled after Anton Walter (1796). This CD contains a selection of Geistliche Oden und Lieder (sacred songs) by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, the most talented son of the great Johann Sebastian. By the end of the 18th century the Lied took its now familiar form: a strophic setting of poems for solo voice with the accompaniment of a keyboard instrument. C.P.E. Bach’s Lieder were mostly on sacred texts, by Gellert and Sturm. As always with this composer we are struck by the craftsmanship, originality and forward looking in his works. The accompaniment offers more than a simple basso continuo, they are richly written keyboard settings, featuring occasional ritornelli between the strophes. Beautifully sung by Spanish soprano Mariví Blasco, specialised in Early Music, cofounder of Accademia del Piacere and L’Arpeggiata. Yago Mahugo plays the fortepiano, is leader of the Ímpetus Madrid Baroque Ensemble and plays the keyboard solo versions of the songs as a bonus.

kr 53 (kr 89)
Image Lieder & Piano Sonata
Eleonora Contucci, soprano
Costantino Mastroprimiano, fortepiano

Norbert Burgmüller may have died at the tender age of 26, but during his short life he authored a significant number of works that have earned him a place among the foremost composers of the early 1800s. Among his admirers were Schumann and Mendelssohn, the former commenting on how, 'following Franz Schubert's death premature death, nothing could be more painful than Burgmüller's.

Indeed, Burgmüller compares most clearly to Schubert in the lieder repertory, with each composer opting for similar subject matter and poetic diom. Generally more contained and abstract in atmosphere than those of his contemporary's, the former's songs reveal styles that are typical of Schubert's compositions (especially Opp. 3, 6 and 10) but which anticipate the Austrian's later lieder through their daring modulations and close alliance between words and music. Culminating in the Frühlingslied - a gem of a piece with a serene, spring-like atmosphere - these songs give way to the final work on the disc, the Piano Sonata in F minor Op.8, whose first movement touches on Spohr's style and whose Finale is a model of virtuoso élan.

Burgmüller may not exactly be a household name, but it is easy to see from this charming release why he is a composer who deserves more recognition. Eleonora Contucci and Costantino Mastroprimiano (a seasoned Brilliant Classics artist) perform with aplomb, the latter in full command of the wonderful Graf fortepiano - one of only 60 surviving instruments by this foremost Viennese craftsman of the 19th century.

kr 53 (kr 89)
Image The Song Of A Life, Vol. 1 (5 CD)
This release marks the beginning of an exciting new series: the complete songs by Paolo Tosti. Paolo Tosti worked in poverty as a music teacher till he met the influential composer Giovanni Sgambati, who became his mentor. He introduced Tosti to Princess Margherita of Savoy, who later became queen of Italy. She was impressed by him and appointed him as royal music teacher. In 1875 Tosti went to London where his fame spread, and he was made Singing Master of the Royal Family.Tosti is known for his vast quantity of light, expressive songs, which are characterized by natural, singable melodies of a charming and sweet sentiment. They became immensely popular and Tosti made a fortune with them. This new project, a huge enterprise, is produced by the Tosti Institute in Italy, presenting an impressive line of excellent Italian singers: Monica Bacelli, Valentina Mastrangelo, Maura Menghini, David Sotgiu, Nunzio Fazzini, Romina Casucci, and many more. Pianists include Marco Scolastra and Roberto Rupo. Complete sung texts are available on the Brilliant Classics website.

kr 95 (kr 159)
Image Salve Regina
Mirko Guadagnini, Tenor
Makoto Sakurada, Tenor
Christian Immler, Bass

Claudio Monteverdi and Girolamo Frescobaldi were two of the most influential musical figures in 17th-century Italy; while the former's boundary-pushing madrigals, operas and sacred works changed the course of Baroque vocal music irrevocably, the latter was one of the first -- and most prominent -- composers to devote serious attention to composing for the keyboard.
This new recording celebrates the influence that these two composers continue to exert over performers and audiences today -- and the fascination that their music inspires -- through a selection of motets and instrumental pieces, performed with precision and authority by Il Pegaso and Maurizio Croci. Of particular interest are a handful of new discoveries: three Marian antiphons by Monteverdi, preserved in a music print
held at the Biblioteka Uniwersytecka in Wroclaw, Poland, and pieces drawn from a recently-unearthed notebook of Frescobaldi's, including early stages of extant works.

With the addition of several better known compositions, this intriguing collection illuminates some less familiar aspects of both composers' oeuvres, and places recent musicological discoveries within reach of listeners. In their debut recording, the new ensemble Il Pegaso, led by Maurizio Croci, deliver performances invested with passion and expertise.

kr 53 (kr 89)
Image Music, When Soft Voices Die
Quink Vocal Ensemble
Marjon Strijk soprano
Elsbeth Gerritsen contralto
Harry van Berne tenor
Kees Jan de Koning bass

Quink is the Netherlands' premier solo vocal ensemble, founded in 1978, which has won a string of awards for its albums of motets, partsongs villancicos and more ranging over 500 years of music. Turning to the rich repertoire of late-19th and early-20th-century English and Irish music, Quink has made a complement to its previous recording of music by Vaughan Williams and Finzi, which received critical praise for its 'technical elegance and fine spirit' (BBC Music Magazine).

The madrigal found a home in Elizabethan England after its creation in mid-17th-century Italy with the works of Gibbons and many others, and survived longer there than in the rest of Europe, where it fell out of fashion in the 18th century. Nonetheless, the Victorian age saw a revival in what had become a neglected genre of consort work, and many glee clubs were formed to sing earlier work, as well as stimulating the composition of new ones such as are found here.

The title track is the last of Sir Charles Parry's Six Modern Lyrics, but the previous five are little known and seldom recorded (the poem by Robert Bridges was also set by Britten's teacher, Frank Bridge, and included here alongside one of several settings of Shakespeare, The Bee). The other extensive collection here is of E.J. Moeran's Songs of Springtime, as buoyant and cheerful as their title suggests, yet curiously neglected. The selections of Vaughan Williams such as his Three Elizabethan Partsongs and Silence and Music are deservedly famous, and sung here with the elegance and freedom that comes more naturally to vocal consorts rather than chamber choirs however well-drilled.

This new recording by Dutch vocal ensemble Quink contains a delectable selection of English part songs, works by Vaughan Williams, Elgar, Bridge, Stanford, Moeran and Parry.

The music has that indelible English atmosphere of autumnal serenity and melancholy, evoking pastoral scenes of poignant beauty, where "time stands still".

The booklet contains liner notes, biography and the complete sung texts.

kr 53 (kr 89)
Image Canzonette A Tre Voci
The genre “canzonette” is the light version of the madrigal: using only 3 voices it is playful and popular in character, based on secular poems in a strophic form of three or four verses with ritornello. Monteverdi composed his “Canzonette a tre voci” when he was seventeen years old, in order to gain recognition with a wider audience, and they have proven to be a perfect preparation for the more serious and complex works he later embarked upon such as the madrigals and the operas. These delightful works are performed with the right light hearted mood and dramatic impact by Armoniosoincanto, conducted by Franco Radicchia, using a rich continuo ensemble consisting of flutes, viola da braccia, viola da gamba, theorbo, baroque guitar and harpsichord.

kr 53 (kr 89)
Image Sacred Music
Federico Maria Sardelli is a Baroque composer for our time. His oldnew music is grounded in extensive research and study of the music of Antonio Vivaldi, which ideally places him to recreate such music in his own image. However, this is not neo Baroque music; it is Baroque music of the present, which in the composers own words regains its own original language and adheres to its own original criteria, expressing vibrant new ideas that are in keeping with its identity.Following the successful release of his concertos and chamber music (BC 94749),Sardelli returns here with his sacred music for voices and orchestra. Together with settings of the Kyrie and Credo is his Dixit Dominus a brilliant realisation of the diverse text of Psalm 109, brought to life through a lively mix of choral and solo singing. Here his engaging style breathes new life into a text popular with the Baroque masters; indeed, Sardellis flexible musical language and imaginative text illustration brings a fresh, spontaneous sound to this music of which Vivaldi would surely have been proud. His Church Concertos also bear a strongly Vivaldian imprint: the C major concerto contains melody that bears the stamp of the galant style, and the D minor concerto makes increasing use of the contrapuntal writing which peaked towards the end of Vivaldis life.Sardelli himself leads performances of his works, with internationally renowned performers of the Baroque style including his own orchestra Modo Antiquo, whose discography of more than 40 titles includes many world premiere recordings, and the Accademia dei Dissennati.

kr 53 (kr 89)
Image Complete Melodies
An important and prestigious new recording: the complete songs (melodies) by Ravel! Ravel's oeuvre is relatively small, and his songs form an essential part of it. Exquisite, refined, exotic, full of colouristic effects and unheard-of timbres, they are a cornerstone of the 20th century song repertoire.This new recording contains the complete songs, accompanied by piano or by instrumental ensemble.Beautiful performances by 4 young singers: Monica Piccinini, Elisabetta Lombardi, Sophie Marilley and tenor Christian Immler. All of these vocalists are enjoying successful careers, singing in prestigious opera houses all over Europe. Christian Immler's earlier recordings have won the prestigious Diapason d'Or.Booklet contains extensive liner notes and artist biographies.

kr 53 (kr 89)
Image Gregorian Chant
Gregorian Chant is the music of the Western Christian Church, and since the Reformation exclusively of the Roman Catholic Church. Named after Pope Gregory the Great (d.604), it cannot be claimed for certain that the plainchant that has been handed down over the centuries originates that far back in time. We do know that between the death of Gregory the Great and the pontificate of Gregory II (715--31), Mass Propers were supplied for the Thursdays of Lent, and that the majority of the chant that has survived dates from the 8th to 11th centuries. This CD provides a selection of chant depicting the perception of Christ according to the Church in the 1st to 6th centuries. The relationship between Roman Chant and Gregorian is a close and complex one; from research we do know that the earliest plainchant dates back to the late period of the Roman Empire (which had by then adopted Christianity), and the pontificate of Pope Vitalian (657--72).

kr 53 (kr 89)
Image Complete Cantatas
Harmonices Mundi / Claudio Astronio

Nicolaus Bruhns (1665-1697) was born in Denmark, where he caught the attention of Buxtehude, becoming his most talented and favourite pupil. He became composer at the Danish Royal Court when his untimely death at age 31 ended a splendid career. Many works by Bruhns have been lost. The young Johann Sebastian Bach has a great admiration for the vocal works by Bruhns, and their influence may be clearly seen in Bach’s early works.

This new recording presents the complete Cantatas by Bruhns, written in the “Stylus Phantasticus” displaying a notable freedom of form and expression of feeling.

Performed by 4 excellent vocal soloists and the Harmonices Mundi, conducted by Claudio Astronio, who already recorded successfully for Brilliant Classics works by Handel, Cabezon (complete works) Wilhelm Friedemann Bach and Stradella.

kr 53 (kr 89)
Image Hänsel und Gretel
Ingeborg Springer mezzo soprano
Renate Hoff soprano
Theo Adam bass
Gisela Schröter contralto
Peter Schreier tenor
Renate Krahmer soprano

Staatskapelle Dresden / Otmar Suitner

When Engelbert Humperdinck's sister Adelheid turned the Grimm brothers' fairytale of Hänsel und Gretel into a short libretto for her children, she asked her composer brother to set the words to music. The resulting performance in their family home delighted Humperdinck's two young nieces and this domestic success soon became a fully fledged opera destined for the international stage. The imaginative score expertly encapsulates the life of children, from exuberant dances and witty exchanges to the sweet solemnity of the Evening Prayer. Their journey into the forest is wonderfully captured in the music; as they move further into the everthreatening woods, the music becomes increasingly opaque, mirroring the darkening of the trees. When the sandman appears, the sinister theme that had heralded his arrival is interrupted, as his harmlessness is revealed, and he leads the children into a peaceful sleep. The menacing theme returns with the arrival of the wicked gingerbread witch; only when the children succeed in stuffing her into her own oven do the exuberant dance like patterns re-emerge, as Hänsel and Gretel joyfully celebrate their triumph along with the children brought back to life by the broken spell.

Despite its apparent simplicity, Humperdinck's opera contains a wealth of themes, with a score remarkable for its range of colours and textures, clearly inspired by Wagner. However, these complexities do not overpower the opera: the music retains its fairy-tale charm. This production features celebrated German sopranos Ingeborg Springer and Renate Hoff as the two young children, expertly supported by operatic greats Theo Adam, Gisela Schröter and Peter Schreier.

Engelbert Humperdinck's opera Hänsel und Gretel has remained a firm favourite in opera houses around the world. A skilful blend of Weber's Der Freischütz, Wagner's Meistersinger and Siegfried, it weaves a magical spell upon the listener. Conjuring up all the childhood fears of what lives in deep in the forest, and things that go bump in the night (this is after all based on a Grimm Brothers tale!), Humperdinck's magical score is full of wonderful tunes.

A welcome back to this famous recording from the vaults of Berlin Classics, with the great Ingeborg Springer and Renate Hoff, and a splendid role for Peter Schreier as Die Knusperhexe. An opera based on a children's tale, but by no means childish! The inherent horror of the tale is painted in Wagnerian colours and the dramatic tension is spine-tingling!

kr 53 (kr 89)
Image Soledad Tengo De Ti
Little is known about the life of Spanish composer Juan Vasquez, fl. 16th century. A skilled and successful composer, he was in the service of the King of Spain. His compositions are mainly secular, in the form of polyphonic madrigals and “Villancicos,” popular songs set for a vocal ensemble of 3 or 4 voices. The Villancicos are based on folk music and traditional texts, peasant melodies brimming with joy, happiness and Spanish vitality. The works on this release have been taken from Vasquez’s two collections, published in 1551 and 1560. This release includes several previously unrecorded items. Spanish Early Music group Vandalia performs this music with infectious enthusiasm. The group consists of 4 excellent vocal soloists, accompanied by the Iberian Harp.

kr 53 (kr 89)
Image A German Soul, Devotional Music From 17th-Century
This stylishly devised programme juxtaposes cantatas by Rosenmüller, Krieger and Buxtehude with instrumental chorales and sonatas by Scheidemann, Praetorius, Tunder and Weckmann; most of these now known, if at all widely, as forerunners to Bach rather than as fine musicians in their own right as they deserve to be. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Hamburg became a leading commercial port where material and cultural goods circulated freely. Ensemble Méridien has chosen this city as the focal point of a fascinating musical journey through northern Germany, a journey that reveals different aspects of this artistic power. The port of Hamburg was also the driving force behind the north German organ school of the time. Churches were overflowing with magnificent organs, and their building and playing techniques reached extremely high standards, as is evident from the organ music included here. Though most of the music in this recital has been recorded before, it has only appeared on relatively obscure labels, and not in this imaginative context where one may more fully appreciate its dramatic as well as musical merits.

Founded in Barcelona in 2010, Ensemble Méridien is an early-music ensemble of young musicians; this is its first recording.

kr 53 (kr 89)
Image Songs and Hymns With Harp
MEZZO-SOPRANO Sophie Marilley
HARMONIUM Claudio Brizi
HARP I Laura Vinciguerra
HARP II Susanna Bertuccioli

Born in 1850 in Bischofswerder, West Prussia (now Poland), Franz Poenitz made his name as a harpist, performing and touring as a child prodigy from the age of six, before spending most of his adult career as a chamber musician at the Berlin Royal Court Opera. He began studying composition when he was 11, and continued to write music throughout his career -- focusing primarily on works for the harp and harmonium, of which he was also a virtuoso.

Although Poenitz's compositions never achieved widespread fame and were forgotten during the course of the 20th century, this fantastic new collection demonstrates why his works -- particularly those for harp -- are experiencing a revival of interest. In the eight pieces, Poenitz's experience as a virtuoso harpist is evident; he makes full use of the instrument's timbre, colour and lyricism to create evocative music of great delicacy. In Spukhafte Gavotte ('Spooky' Gavotte), Heinrich Heine's ghostly poem Maria Antoinette is depicted through a suitably eerie arrangement. Der Fischer sees Goethe's ballad of the same title set in an unusual arrangement for harp and mezzo-soprano, while the evocative Wikingerfahrt may have been inspired by Swedish stories about the Viking Frithiof.

In all cases, Poenitz's ability to write intuitively for the harp is clear, and given full expression by this accomplished group of performers. Featuring world premiere performances of a number of pieces, this new disc is an introduction to this forgotten composer, and will be of particular interest to harp music enthusiasts.

World premiere recordings of rare but fascinating repertoire

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Image Hunyadi László
The first issue in a series of new recordings for Brilliant Classics from the world famous Budapest National Opera, Hungarian operas in Hungarian.

Ferenc Erkel was one of the foremost romantic composers of Hungary, one might be tempted to call him the Hungarian Verdi. His operas were based on the rich, long and troublesome history of his home country, and are the first to be written in Hungarian. The plot centres around the hero Hunyadi László in his fight against to ruling Ottomans in the 13th century.

Excellent performances by Hungarian forces, the crème of the Budapest National Opera, with its long and famous tradition, in which also Gustav Mahler played his role (he was director of the Budapest Opera for several years).

Booklet contains detailed notes on the music and plot synopsis, libretto in original language downloadable from the Brilliant Classics website.

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Image Complete Cantatas, Vol. 4
Stefanie True, soprano; Klaartje van Veldhoven, soprano
Contrasto Armonico / Marco Vitale

The 4th volume of Brilliant Classics' recordings of Handel's complete cantatas, performed by Contrasto Armonico and directed by Marco Vitale, gathers together five works that vividly illustrate the composer's skill at setting the words of his texts, creating hitherto unknown emotional depth and nuance from modest orchestral forces.

The musical setting of Clori, mia bella Clori amply displays the genius that would establish Handel as the leading operatic composer of his day, using a range of different combinations of instruments to respond to the subject of each section of the text, from grief and weeping to passionate jealousy. Similarly, in both Pensieri notturni di Filli (Nel dolce dell'oblio) and Lungi n'andò Fileno Handel employs striking dissonance to create a musical counterpart to the despair and suffering of the texts. By contrast, Sans y penser, Handel's only French cantata, is a comic work, closing with a humorous musical illustration of the singer's tribute to drinking.

Handel composed over 100 secular cantatas during his stay in Italy in the early 1700s. He had several patrons; among the most generous and supportive was the Marquis Francesco Maria Ruspoli, and most of the information on the works included on this disc comes from his records.

These cantatas reveal the richness of the young composer's compositional palette, and his ability to depict the content of his texts in such a way that the listener both hears and experiences the emotions of each work. As such, they are an important foreshadowing of his later career as a celebrated operatic composer.

Other information:
- Other titles in the series: Vol.1 (93999), Vol.2 (94000) & Vol.3 (94230)

- Accompanied by a 20-page booklet with notes on each of the cantatas and complete sung texts and translations

- The high level of performance (on historic instruments) and presentation

- Recordings made in 2010

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Image Passio Di Venerdi Santo / Passione Secondo Giovann
World premiere recording.

We don't know much about Carlo Sturla, not even the dates of his birth and death, and he is absent from Google -- quite an achievement! The sole reference to him is in the register of the Convent of Santa Brigida belonging to the Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Sturla worked here, but apparently his assiduous attendance upon and training of the young women under his tutelage was viewed with some suspicion.

His Passio di Venerdi di Venerdi di Santo displays a thorough appreciation of contemporary Genovese opera, with recitatives reserved for the dramatic content as was the fashion at the time. The arias therefore do not depict the drama and action, but relay rather vague emotions and feelings. His vocal writing requires agility, and the mocking chorus depicting the crowd reveal a theatrical yearning. The style is simple and the musical writing is linear, but the overall effect is one of delicate lyricism, and graceful but never excessive virtuosity.

This work was probably composed for Holy Week, and any religious establishment that boasted its own choir would often commission local composers to provide music for the services during this busy week. Sturla and his young choir would have been ideal candidates for such a task.

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Image Damnation de Faust, La
Denés Gulyás (Faust), Maria Ewing (Marguerite), Robert Lloyd (Méphistophélès), Manfred Volz (Brander).

Radio-Sinfonie Orchester Frankfurt
Kölner Rundfunkchor
Südfunk-Chor Stuttgart
Chor des NDR Hamburg
Eliahu Inbal, conductor

Although little appreciated in his native France for many years, Hector Berlioz now safely resides among the giants of the 19th century's musical scene. The composer's vocal output is extensive and includes several operatic works; written during 1845--46, La Damnation de Faust forms the subject of this engaging 2CD release.

The work grew out of Berlioz's encounter with Goethe, one of the great influences -- together with Shakespeare -- on the composer's creativity. A hybrid composition which employs just four principal singers and a chorus, as befits a 'concert' setting, La Damnation de Faust is too theatrical to work in this guise -- and, alas, too impractical to be staged successfully. Nevertheless it remains an intensely dramatic piece: listen out for the violent orchestral outpourings of the Hungarian March as well as the 'Ride to Hell', which leads to a terrible vision of Pandemonium. Residing among the composer's most intense and thrilling music, the work features many ballet episodes and includes Marguerite's song -- one of the greatest French operatic scenes. 'Inbal has a fine ear for Berlioz's orchestration, matched by sensitive recording, so that time and again details spring into dramatic life...a distinctive and intelligent performance... No lover of the work should miss hearing it.' Gramophone, July 1991

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Image Leipziger Choräle
Manuel Tomadin organ

The C minor Passacaglia and Fugue is one of the great masterpieces for the instrument and one which inspired countless responses from composers great and lesser. So it's all the more astonishing to think that Bach wrote it while still a twenty-something hireling in Weimar, where his Kapellmeistership to the Duke ended badly with the composer being clapped in irons for touting his availability for other jobs, frustrated as his ambition was by the restrictions of the position. He had, however, managed to overhaul the organ of the court chapel in 1712-13, by collaborating with an organ-builder friend by the name of Trebs; both men had had plenty of experience upgrading instruments elsewhere, and it showed both in the colourful specification of the new instrument and the music that Bach was thereby able to write for it - none more spectacular than the spectrum of registers which the successive variations of the Passacaglia seem to cry out for. Bach also wrote plenty of 'bread and butter' chorales while in Weimar, of course, and later elaborated them, as was his wont, in Leipzig; here's a rare chance to hear the original versions.

Manuel Tomadin is Young ECHO Organist of the Year 2012, having won the ninth Internationaal Schnitger Orgelconcours during the Orgelfestival Holland in June 2011 in Alkmaar. He was born in 1977 but has already made recordings on various instruments of historical importance; he enjoys a high reputation among the organ fraternity.

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Image Ester
Over the centuries since his death, the scandalous, life of Alessandro Stradella (1639--1682) has captured the interest of listeners and scholars more than his compositions, influential though they were during his lifetime. The Italian composer's adventures, which included dangerous love affairs, an attempted assassination and the stabbing that ended his life, have inspired novelists, opera composers and film directors.

Yet Stradella's music is every bit as colourful and intriguing as his biography. His oratorio Ester, liberatrice del popolo Hebreo, based on the Old Testament story of Esther, whose bravery saves the Jews from slaughter and exposes the wickedness of the King's counsellor Haman, exemplifies the composer's distinctive style, while conforming to the traditions of the 17th-century oratorio. Moral teaching, vocal virtuosity and sinuous melodies are combined, in a work that expresses plethora of affects and emotions -- from Esther's sorrow to Haman's malevolence.

In this fine recording, the world premiere performance, Il Concento and a group of accomplished soloists deliver a thoroughly researched and historically informed performance (using period instruments), led by the acclaimed conductor Luca Franco Ferrari, a Renaissance and Baroque specialist. This is just one in a series of Stradella recordings issued by Brilliant Classics, who are spearheading the revival of this fascinating composer; those who enjoyed this year's earlier recording of the oratorio La Susanna will be eager to add Ester to their collections.

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Image Cantatas and Concertos
The untimely death of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi at age 26 robbed the musical world ? of one of the greatest talents of the 18th century. During his short life Pergolesi was a prolific composer, he wrote more than his immortal Stabat Mater, deservedly one of the most popular and best known sacred works of the Baroque.

This new recording presents two first recordings of Cantatas, on secular texts for vocal soloists and instrumental ensemble, works of deep emotion and profundity, worthy companions to the Stabat Mater.

Musica Perduta is a cultural organisation delving deep into historical archives, unearthing unpublished works by the Italians masters of the 17th and 18th century. Earlier issues on Brilliant Classics include Cello Sonatas by Zuccari (BC 94306) and unpublished Italian Cantatas by Handel (BC 94426).

The booklet contains liner notes and the complete sung texts.

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Image Concert Arias
The origin of the dialogue between a solo voice and several obbligati instruments dates from the early baroque period (1600), and probably emerged from the hum drum setting of the market square where a singer would perform to the accompaniment of a few wind instruments. More refined relations of this musical form soon could be found in sacred and operatic works. This CD contains the complete obbligato arias by master and pupil -- J.C Bach and Mozart. Therefore we can hear examples of the pre classical (1750-75) and the classical period (1775-1820).

There is one undisputed masterpiece here -- Mozart's Ch'io mi scordi di te? K505 for soprano and piano. The aria is an expression of personal sadness. Nancy Storace, the first Susanna in Figaro, had left Mozart and returned to London. This is no operatic love affair gone wrong, but a real life one. Mozart himself is represented by the piano, Nancy by the stunning soprano role.

Mozart's friend and teacher J.C. Bach has a world premiere recording on this CD. His aria Sventura in van mi lagno of 1773 is an impressive virtuoso work for high soprano with two obbligato horns. One the players J.C Bach wrote for was none other than Giovanni Punto, hence the extremely challenging nature of the horn part for a natural horn.

Other information:
- Recorded 2008
- Booklet notes and sung texts
- Period instruments
- World premiere of a major 12 minute J.C Bach aria

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Image Gentil Senora
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Image Motets
Modus Ensemble / Mauro Marchetti

Claudio Merulo (1533-1604) held the prestigious post of first organist of the San Marco in Venice. Although he was a key figure in the development of keyboard music he also wrote a large number of vocal works of great importance: masses, motets and madrigals.

Merulo's Motets, though standing in the tradition of the High Renaissance, reveal an innovative form and linguistic freedom. In his 5-part Motets for single choir the initial imitative counterpoints develops into antiphonal sections and ritornello passages that anticipate the "concertato" style of the emerging Baroque period.

The Italian Modus Ensemble, conducted by Mauro Marchetti, is accompanied by viola da gamba, violone, theorbo and organ.

The complete sung texts in the original language are included in the booklet.

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Image Die Sieben Todsünden (The Seven Deadly Sins)
Gisela May, soprano
Peter Schreier, tenor
Hans-Joachim Rotzsch, tenor
Günther Leib, baritone
Hermann Christian Polster, bass

Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester Leipzig / Herbert Kegel

Kurt Weil wrote "Die Sieben Todsünden" in Paris (in exile) as a commission from a French ballet group. It is a "Ballet chanté" (a "sung ballet") for singers, dance group and orchestra. Weill and his librettist Bertolt Brecht present a satire of the pretty bourgeois morals, and turn the 7 deadly sins into virtues.

This recording from 1966 is a classic, and of the most authentic performances, starring the great Gisela May, grande dame of the German protest song. She is superbly seconded by Peter Schreier and the Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester Leipzig conducted by Herbert Kegel, unsurpassed in this repertoire.

Furthermore on this fascinating disc: songs from Berliner Requiem, Mahagonny and Dreigroschenoper.

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Image San Giovanni Crisostomo
Having lived a short, dramatic life worthy of its own literary account (a highly dramatised novel of his life was produced in 1844 recounting his many scandals and sensational murder), San Giovanni Crisostomo was one of several sacred oratorios to emerge from Alessandro Stradella’s surprisingly large output. It tells of the conflict between the rapacious, tyrannical and yet conflicted Queen Eudosia of Byzantium, and John Chrysostom, the dissident Archbishop of Constantinople, known for his eloquent rebuttals of corruption and wealth. Through this work Stradella and the unknown librettist explore the greater conflict between secular and religious powers, and engage the listener in sophisticated moral and political dilemmas.

Perhaps his best-known work, Stradella’s score makes innovative use of intimate resources; it calls only for a simple basso continuo to accompany the singers, and demonstrates his signature flair for recognising dramatic contours of the text in his vocal works along with his rhythmic fluidity, striking harmonic invention and sensitively designed characterisation of its main roles. Having already tackled the likes of Bach, Albinoni and Vivaldi on previous releases, Baroque aficionados Harmonices Mundi bring their learned interpretations to the recording and breathe new life to Stradella’s remarkable work, while showcasing the copious talents of several leading early music specialists. This exciting new recording is based on a critical edition by Colin Timms, academic and expert in early music.

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Image Secular Canons
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Image Pecheurs de Perles, Les
Desirée Rancatore (Léïla), Celso Albelo (Nadir), Luca Grassi (Zurga) & Alastair Miles (Nourabad)

Orchestra Filarmonica Salernitana 'Giuseppe Verdi'
Coro del Teatro dell'Opera di Salerno
Daniel Oren, conductor

Parisian composer Georges Bizet was enrolled in the Consevatoire at the age of nine and won a premier prix in solfège within six months of his arrival. He later received prizes for his skill as a pianist, gaining particular renown for his sight-reading, and won the coveted Prix de Rome in 1857. At this time, opera theatres in Paris were reluctant to stage new works rather than the established classics, meaning that Bizet's operas did not achieve much success during his lifetime, despite the fact that today two of his operas are considered among the best ever written.

The premiere of Les Pêcheurs de Perles took place in 1863 and the opera was brought back to Paris in 1889 at the Exposition Universelle of that year. The story, set in Ceylon (known today as Sri Lanka), centres on the love between the priestess Léïla and the fisherman Nadir, who is envied by his fellow fisherman and friend Zurga.

The idea of the 'exotic' is a prominent feature of the opera and can be heard in the unusual instruments of the percussion section, the dance rhythms, and the use of the harp. The qualities of the 'exotic' evoked here are more similar to those of the Mediterranean than of Ceylon, although it is known from Bizet's letters that his original inspiration for the setting was Mexico. The opera contains the famous friendship duet, 'Au fond du temple saint', known as the Pearl Fishers' Duet.

The recording features Desirée Rancatore and Celso Albelo in the roles of Léila and Nadir. Rancatore, a leading interpreter of the light, lyrical roles in Italian opera, debuted as Barbarina in The Marriage of Figaro at the Salzburg Festival at just 19 years old. She has since won critical acclaim for her performances as Adina (L'elisir d'amour), Gilda (Rigoletto) and the Queen of the Night (The Magic Flute), all of which she has sung worldwide. Tenor Celso Albelo has performed all over the world in operas such as Rigoletto, Lucia di Lammemoor and Falstaff, and was awarded the Opera National Prize (Spain) for Best Newcomer in 2008 for his performance in I puritani.

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Image Les Deux Chasseurs Et La Laitière
Les deux chasseurs et la laitiere, a one-act opera by Egidio Romualdo Duno (1708-1775), was premiered in Paris by the company of Theatre de Comediens Italiens, in July 1763. This work, staged then many times at the Opera Comique, was soon published and its popularity among European theatres reached its peak between the 1780s and the beginning of the 19th century. The opera is written in the Galant Style: small size, fast-paced action, sharp sense of humour, amusing spoken dialogues and, above all, very light and cleverly written music, made this piece one of the most popular operas not only in Paris of the time. The libretto is based on two fables by De La Fontaine, ingeniously combining two plots involving two hunters and a milk jug. This is a vibrant performance on period instruments by the Accademia dell’Arcadia from the Polish Poznan, featuring three excellent young Polish vocal soloists. Conductor is Early music specialist Roberto Balconi, who has already issued successful recordings on Brilliant Classics.

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Image Grossinquisitor (Der)
Siegmund Nimsgern, baritone
Rundfunkchor Leipzig
Dresdner Philharmonie
Herbert Kegel, conductor

Boris Blacher's oratorio, Der Großinquisitor, was only half finished in 1943. Having found himself in truly dire straits - forced to withdraw from musical life thanks to his inclusion on the Nazi register of Jews in music, and hit by a particularly nasty relapse of tuberculosis - it took the friendship and hospitality of his pupil, Gottfried von Einem, to help him regain his health and confidence, and finish the oratorio.

The text is based on Dostoyevsky's novel, The Brothers Karamazov, illustrating Jesus's return to earth in 16th century Seville. The depiction of the heretics burned to the glory of God could not be a clearer reflection of the fate of the Jews at the hands of the Nazis. Distinct from the other works in Blacher's oeuvre thanks to its seriousness and tonal harmony, Der Großinquisitor also contains elements that are typical of the composer's style, such as terse rhythms and seemingly aimless melodic lines.

The role of the Inquisitor is sung by German bass-baritone, Siegmund Nimsgern, who has enjoyed an international career as an opera singer, performing with the Royal Opera (London), Metropolitan Opera (New York) and the Vienna State Opera, among others. Alongside him is the Rundfunkchor Leipzig and Dresdner Philharmonie, conducted by Herbert Kegel.

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Image 4CD-BOX: O Magnum Mysterium
Music in 14th century Europe was dominated by the composers working in the Low Countries, or what we now call The Netherlands and Belgium and Northern France. Dufay was born in Cambrai, but went to Italy in the 1420s to work in Bologna, and eventually became a member of the Papal choir before returning to Cambrai. Josquin Desprez was from Flanders, and moved to Milan in 1460, and like Dufay became a member of the Papal choir, before moving to Cambrai. He was one of the first composers to benefit from the printing of music and his reputation traveled far and wide as a result. His music is beautifully crafted, and he attempted to convey in music the inner meaning of the words -- one of the earliest instances of a composer exploring the expressive possibilities of text and music. Ockeghem was born in Dendermonde, and he traveled to Spain and throughout Flanders. His music, like Josquin's is superbly crafted, with intricate rhythmic sections, and a seamless flow of counterpoint.

These 4CDs contain major works by these great composers of the early Rennaissance, plus works by several of their contemporaries. A CD-ROM contains extensive notes and texts.

Other information:
- Recordings made in 1973-88
- CD-ROM with notes and texts

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Image Evensongs & Vespers at King's
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Image Armenian Composers
Mariam Sarkissian, mezzo-soprano
Artur Avanesov, piano

This year's commemoration of the Armenian Genocide has drawn attention to the rich cultural heritage of this "hidden" country, with its unique language, script and folklore.

This new recording presents three Armenian composers of three generations.

The song cycle "Emerald Songs" by Romanos Melikyan is written on words by 8 contemporary Armenian poets, in a spicy Ravelian language inspired by Armenian folk music. Mansuryan is of the same generation and blood group of Schnittke, Gubaidulina, Pärt and Kancheli. Young Avanesov's piano cycle "Feux follets" is in postmodern style, free and associative.

Sung with great intensity and feeling for the idiom by Armenian mezzo soprano Mariam Sarkissian, who recently received an "Orphée d'or" for her CD of vocal works by Tchaikovsky and Cui.

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Image The Divan of Moses Ibn Ezra - Complete Music for V
This is the fourth volume on Brilliant Classics of the vibrantly cosmopolitan music of the Jewish-Italian, US composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. His heritage is reflected in this substantial song-cycle for soprano and guitar, receiving here only its second modern recording. The Divan of Moses Ibn Ezra is a setting of 19 poems, in a modern English translation, by a medieval Spanish Jew who wrote, like Castelnuovo-Tedesco almost a millennium later, in exile.

Thus the subject of its first section is ‘Songs of Wandering’, before friendship and love turn sour in the second section. Sorrow and defeat also mark the third, ‘Of Wine, and of the Delights of the Sons of Men’ – though still within the composer’s appealingly melodic vein – before the return of spring and a more positive outlook to close the cycle, in which the poet bravely faces ‘The World and its Vicissitudes’ before contemplating mortality with calm resignation in a moving epilogue.

The piece is a substantial addition to the growing discography of the composer on Brilliant Classics, including releases dedicated to his guitar studies (BC95219), duets (BC94833), concertos (BC7615) and piano music (BC94811), as well as samples of his prolific output on several compilations. The fine Italian guitarist Giulio Tampalini has his own impressive discography on the label, in music by Paganini (BC95031), Mozzani and Respighi (BC95230), Tárrega (BC94336) and more. Here he is joined by the Polish soprano Joanna Klisowska, who has sung with many major European early-music ensembles.

The album is completed with individual songs in Spanish and Italian as well as two settings of Shakespeare. Ranging in date across the composer’s long career, they exhibit his full stylistic range, from the impressionistic, late-Romantic language of the English songs to the more harmonically adventurous terrain of two Spanish folksongs.

Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895-1968) wrote his song cycle “The Divan of Moses Ibn Ezra” in the last years of his life, a work of reflection on the human condition. Moses Ibn Ezra (1055-1138) was a Jewish poet who took refuge in Spain after the conquest of his land by the Berber Almoravids, an obvious and deep inspiration for the Jew Castelnuovo-Tedesco who experienced the same fate of exile when moving in 1939 to the USA, fleeing the Nazi threat.
The song cycle “Divan of Moses Ibn Ezra” is in English, a translation of the original Hebrew poetry. The work is divided in 5 parts, and describes the stages of human life and its fate: “Songs of Wandering”, “Songs of Friendship”, “Wine and the delights of Sons of Men”, “the World and its Vicissitudes” and “the Transience of the World”. The musical tone is elegiac, sometimes melancholy, a bittersweet reflection on a long life full of glory and despair.
A beautiful interpretation by soprano Joanna Klisowska, specialist in Early Music and 20-th century repertoire, and master guitarist Giulio Tampalini.
The booklet contains excellent liner notes written by the famous composer Angelo Gilardino, in both English and Italian.

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Image Cantates Spirituelles

Le Tendre Amour

In early 18th-century France, René Drouard de Bousset was at the height of his popularity as a virtuoso organist, a role which he combined with teaching as well as part-time composition. De Bousset began associating with the convulsionnaires - a Jansenist religious movement - at around the time in which the craze for the French cantate was sweeping through France, and although there are numerous examples of the cantata, much rarer is the cantate spirituelle, a logical step for De Bousset and of which there are just three known composers. The cantate spirituelle was a form which became increasingly fashionable in the late court of Louis XIV.

Early music ensemble Le Tendre Amour, directed by Katy Elkin and Esteban Mazer, is styled as a mini orchestra. Based in Barcelona, the group has performed at prestigious early music festivals throughout Europe, and their programme of Jewish Baroque music earned them the prize for best interpretation at the Varaždin Baroque Evenings festival in Croatia.

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Image Complete Songs
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Image Orfeo ed Euridice
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Image Vier Letzte Lieder/Four Last Songs - Orchestral So
'Charlotte Margiono's performance radiates selflessness, a spiritual beauty that is profoundly moving. She sings with brilliance and strength.' (The Times, London, reviewing her performance in Fidelio at Glyndebourne in 2001)

The Four Last Songs of Richard Strauss, more than any other work, sum up the end of their era -- that of romanticism, and the end of the old Germany (the decent, cultured Germany destroyed by the Nazi regime) that Strauss had made his name in. There is an unmistakably valedictory air, and although the songs were not intended to be published as a group (or indeed under the title of Four Last Songs), they were the final works of the composer. He had exiled himself to Switzerland after the war, and lived in reduced circumstances, suffering from the connections he had with the Nazis -- although he had been denazified. His royalties had been frozen, and there was a reluctance to perform his music worldwide.

His fortunes changed in 1947, however, when a festival of his music was staged in London, conducted by the composer and Sir Thomas Beecham. It was a triumph, and at his son's urging, he returned to composition. The premiere of the four songs took place in London's Royal Albert Hall in 1950, one year after the composer's death, with Wilhelm Furtwängler conducting and Kirsten Flagstad as soloist. At the end of the last song, 'Im Abendrot', the audience remained silent.

This disc contains eight other orchestral songs, including the ever-popular Morgen!

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Image Seven Last Words - Oratorio Version
Part of the MUSICA SACRA series.

Booklet notes and complete sung texts.

Haydn already had a wealth of sacred works under his belt when, in 1785, aged 53 and at the height of his fame, he received a detailed commission for the cathedral of Cadiz in Spain, asking him to write ceremonial music for Good Friday. His challenge was to create an engaging and individual work out of the curious musical form prescribed by the ritual, and the resulting instrumental composition was a triumph.

Its history, however, was far from complete; several years later while in Passau, Haydn stumbled upon a vocal arrangement of the work, set to excerpts of Ramler's poem Der Tod Jesu, which he took upon himself to revise. The ensuing oratorio, to which a woodwind intermezzo was also added, was published in 1801 and exceeded all popularity of the previous version to become one of the composer's most performed works.

In recent times Haydn's "Seven Last Words" have enjoyed increasing levels of fame and popularity. These intimate seven adagios show a contemplative, deeply introspective side of Haydn which many were not familiar with.
Of the several versions of the work (solo keyboard, string quartet, string orchestra) this version for soloists, choir and orchestra became the most popular.

That it was, according to Haydn, one of his greatest achievements can be heard in this superb account given by the talented Chamber Choir of Europe, which has already produced many distinguished recordings for Brilliant Classics. Beautifully sensitive singing enhances the individual character accorded to each of the seven Adagio movements by the composer, making this performance an invaluable addition to Haydn's discography of sacred works.

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Image Messa Di Gloria
Mascagni's once popular "Messa di Gloria" finally rediscovered Italian composer Pietro Mascagni (1863 1945) is nowadays actually brought only with a work of his opera "Cavalleria Rusticana", in connection. Here, Mascagni left a broad oeuvre, the next 15 operas also includes numerous instrumental works and sacred music. The "Messa di Gloria" of 1887 was at that time very popular, probably because they, powerful arias and orchestral pomp contains many elements of a verismo opera with lofty choirs. The ensemble Seicentonovecento under Flavio Colusso has re-recorded with meticulous attention to detail for the present CD this forgotten wrongly fair.

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Image Songs for Soprano & Guitar
John Dowland is without doubt one of the most famous English composers, the foremost exponent of the Golden Age of the Elizabethan Era of the 16th and 17th Century. Dowland’s songs fully reflect the spirit and tastes of the Elizabethan age, with their tendency towards deep melancholy and their pronounced focus on darkness, moonlight and night time. Despite the predominance of grief, sadness, tears and death there are also songs in which a sense of optimism, lightness and joy prevail. This new recording uses the classical guitar as accompanying instrument, played by Adriano Sebastiani. The young soprano Siphiwe McKenzie was twice nominated by the prestigious magazine Opernwelt as “Young Singer of the Year.” She sang in important theatres such as the Wiener Volksoper, Teatro Colon (Buenos Aires), Teatro Regio di Parma, Leipzig State Opera and many more.

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Image Complete Vocal Music
Hailed in his time as Spain's greatest living composer, Joan Baptista Cabanilles is today considered by many to be the greatest of all Spanish Baroque composers, one whose wealth of ideas, mastery of counterpoint and command of form represent the climax of the Iberian tradition of organ music that stretched as far back as Cabezón. That Cabanilles was held in high esteem by his contemporaries is shown by his music's wide distribution in manuscripts. Though the vast majority is for keyboard, there do exist some 10 sacred choral works - precious remnants of what must have been a much larger repertory, probably conceived for the cathedral of Valencia in which the composer spent most of his working life.

All of the works are assembled on this charming release, recorded by the chamber choir and musicological society Amystis, and a significant addition the Spanish Baroque discography that follows the completion of the critical edition by José Duce Chenoll of Cabanilles' entire vocal music output. Chenoll, who directs and provides the intonation, postulates in the liner notes that not all of the compositions - which include a Mass and Magnificat as well as works honouring the Blessed Sacrament - were performed in Cabanilles' lifetime, given that many are written on sketch paper (and possibly, too, in the composer's hand), but this should not detract from their masterful quality. Revealing the composer's great expertise in the use of musical rhetoric as well as his concern regarding varied rhythmic and harmonic effects, they are performed with aplomb by an ensemble that have made it their special task to research and promote, always via novel means, unpublished repertoire from the late 16th to early 18th centuries.

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Image Trionfi
This 2CD set presents the complete "Trionfi", the set of three Cantatas which Carl Orff wrote on texts of the ancient Greeks (Trionfi di Afrodite), Catulli Carmina (on verses by the famous Roman poet Catullus) and the famous and immensely popular Carmina Burana, on medieval student poetry.

Orff's musical language is as raw, raucous and "vulgar" (in the literal sense of "of the people") as his texts: theatrical, blown-up and extravagant these works foreshadow the 20-th century pop culture, they certainly achieved the same popularity (the opening choir "O Fortuna" from Carmina Burana is a world hit). Excellent classic performances from the East-German archives of Berlin Classics with the great conductor Herbert Kegel (specialist in 20th century repertoire) and the RSO Leipzig.

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Image Cantatas
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Image May Night
Rimsky's operatic masterpiece.

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) composed his comic opera May Night in 1878-9, at a time when he was fascinated in the stories for the supernatural and the fantastic. It was also at this time that he had been appointed to a teaching role at the St Petersburg Conservatory -- a role he thought himself ill prepared for. Much to the astonishment of his fellow composers and friends -- Borodin, Balakirev, and Mussorgsky he threw himself in to the study of counterpoint, writing canons, fugues -- all far removed from the spirit of Russian Nationalism in music he and his friends had championed. To show that he hadn't deviated from the path of music inspired by Russian folklore and culture, May Night, his second opera is perhaps his most 'Russian'.

Based on a story by Nikolai Gogol, May Night, or the Drowned Maiden, Rimsky uses Gogol's story virtually unaltered, writing his own recitatives and some of the texts to arias. This adaption of ordinary speech or dialogue from the written story gave the work a colloquial folk like feel. Many of the tunes in the opera are from a collection published in 1872 by Alexander Rubets of Ukrainian folk songs. Rimsky's orchestration is superb -- glittering and highly illustrative of the supernatural realm of the 'rusalki' and in places foreshadows the music Wagner wrote in act 2 of Parsifal for the depiction of Klingsor's Garden.

A footnote to the premiere at the Mariinsky Theatre in 1880 -- the role of Levko's tyrannical father was sung by Fyodor Stravinsky, who, two tears later would become the father of Igor Stravinsky....

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Image Lieder
Wagner neglected songs in an interesting new recording of Richard Wagner (1813 1883) is without a doubt one of the most important composers of the 19th century and one of the most important innovators of the Opera. All the more surprising that a large part oeuvres, namely his songs (with the exception of the Wesendonck-Lieder), almost unnoticed remains is his. This CD combines recordings numerous songs Wagner together: In addition to the Wesendonck-Lieder, which originated from 1857 to 1858 (in the creative period of the Ring of the Nibelung), the album also includes Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel and melodrama of the Seven Compositions on Goethe's Faust (1831 ) and some individual works with, among others Victor-Hugo-and Heinrich-Heine-musical settings. As a curiosity, the CD contains the Italian language version of the Wesendonck Lieder, who prepared the Verdi librettist Arrigo Boito. As an interpreter of the Italian soprano Michela Sburlati is heard, it is accompanied by her compatriot Marco Scolastra. The pictures were taken in July 2013 at the Auditorium San Domenico in Italian Foligno; The booklet contains the sung texts, detailed notes to the songs and early period Wagner and artist biographies.

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Image Johannes-Passion
"There are fine contributions especially from Stephen Varcoe, and an exceptionally immediate and affecting 'Es ist vollbracht' from Michael Chance." (Gramophone)

Recording made in 2003: the full length CD recording plus the DVD of the same recording, filmed in the famous King's College Chapel in Cambridge.The 1725 version is used in this recording.

Bach produced his St John Passion in 1724, and it was his first setting of the Passion story. The premiere of the first version took place on Good Friday in Leipzig at the Nicolaikirche. Johann Kuhnau had introduced the tradition of Passion oratorios to Leipzig a few years earlier. Bach's work underwent several revisions right up to the late 1740s, and was performed regularly in all versions.

Bach's Passions have an interesting history. He is credited with five, but only two survive intact, the St John and the St Matthew. The St Mark manuscript was destroyed during a bombing raid in the Second World War, although some music and the text survived, and it has been reconstructed and subsequently recorded. Passion settings appear to have occupied Bach from early on in his career. Some of the material used in the St John Passion dates back to 1714, and it is now believed that Bach reused material from an earlier and now lost Passion. In fact, Bach's endless revisions saw material from the St Matthew Passion being included in the St John, several Sinfonias were added, and then removed, and these in turn provide material for the many incomplete concertos in Bach's catalogue of works. Passions are musical descriptions of the events in the life of Christ, from the entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to the Crucifixion. Bach's Johannes Passion is on a smaller scale than its big brother Matthäus Passion, yet in its intimate and deeply emotional language it may make an even more profound impression.

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Image Nana: Spanish Lullabies
A unique collection of Spanish and Latin-American lullabies.The Spanish lullaby is characterised by a special bitter-sweet flavour, in which the joy and pain of childhood are perfectly captured. The lullabies on this recording are original art-songs by famous composers: De Falla, Rodrigo, Halffter, Montsalvatge, Abril, Moreno-Torroba, Guastavino, Toldra and others. Carmen Solis is one of the leading sopranos of her home country Spain. She has the right mixture of melancholy, innocence, serenity and that deep smouldering Spanish passion in her voice, which make this performance irresistible!Excellent liner notes in the booklet, song texts on the Brilliant Classics website.

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Image O Pretiosum: Music For The Blessed Sacrament
Amystis Chamber Choir / José Duce Chenoll

Juan Bautista Comes (1582-1643) is one of the most significant composers of the early Spanish baroque, linking elements of Renaissance style with the emerging techniques and tastes of the Baroque. He was a famous musician of his time, and he held the prestigious post of chapel master of the Valencia Cathedral. Since 1437 this cathedral kept the Holy Chalice, the cup that Jesus used at the Last Supper, the reason Comes wrote extensively for the Eucharist, the Blessed Sacrament.

Apart from the sacred Motets this new recording contains a selection of Villancicos, choral works written in the vernacular, based on popular music, written with the aim to make the liturgy more understandable for the common people. They were written in polychoral style, lending a theatrical and monumental character to the text and music.

Excellent performances by the Spanish vocal ensemble Amystis Chamber Choir, who already recorded successfully for Brilliant Classics the complete choral works by Cabanilles (BC94781).

The booklet contains liner notes and the original sung texts.

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Image Meyerbeer in France
Hjördis Thébault, soprano
Pierre-Yves Pruvot, baritone

Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra / Didier Talpain

This new recording contains a generous selection of arias and duets from operas by Meyerbeer. He enjoyed a hugely successful career as an opera composer. He perfected the genre Grand Opera, which deeply influenced composers like Verdi, Wagner, Gounod and Massenet. It is high time that the neglect which befell him after his death is compensated, and fortunately several of his operas are taken back on the repertoire of opera houses.

This recording offers arias and duets from Robert le Diable, L’Africaine, Le Prophète, Les Huguenots, L’Étoile du Nord and Dinorah, music of great melodic invention, drama and burning passion.

Excellent performances by French baritone Pierre-Yves Pruvot, prize-winner at the Den Bosch and Brussels vocal competitions, and Hjördis Thébault, French-born soprano who sang with William Christie, John Elliott Gardiner, Marc Minkowski and Kent Nagano. The Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra is conducted by Meyerbeer champion Didier Talpain.

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Image Media Vita: Gregorian Hymns of Death and Resurrect
The Schola Cantorum Karolus Magnus in Nijmegen was founded in 1988. The Schola aims to promote the authentic performance of Gregorian chant as a valuable cultural and liturgical heritage. It mainly relies on the achievements of the studies of the early-medieval manuscripts, as they were taken up in the 19th century by the monks of Solesmes (France) and have been continued there and at other places.

Several scholarly sources have been consulted to compile this fascinating collection of chants concerned with the central tenets of Christian faith. The result may be both deeply satisfying for those experienced in singing and listening to chant, and powerfully affecting for those to whom Gregorian chant represents simply a timeless beauty and spiritual resource.

The starting-point of these performances is the semiology -- a study of the signs (neumes) as mentioned in the manuscripts at the top of the texts.These provide little accurate information about the melody, but all the more about the essential flow of the rhythm that must be practised in the singing.

The Schola Kantorum Karolus Magnus gives concerts across Europe at significant musical festivals, especially those concerned with liturgical performance. This release will capture the imagination of all those who are interested in Gregorian Chant as a living but timeless tradition.

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Image Die Lustigen Weiber von Windsor
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Image Dido and Aeneas - Galliard: Pan and Syrinx
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Image Passion Cantatas
A most welcome and original release for the Easter season!

New recordings, recorded in Pistoia, Italy in 2011, performed on original instruments. Booklet includes notes and complete sung texts.

Bernardo Pasquini (1637--1710) was born in the province of Pistoia, Italy. Drawn to Rome like many promising young musicians, his first of many posts was as organist at the Chiesa Nouva church, and in 1667 he obtained a good position in the service of Prince Giovanni Battista Borghese, where he composed ceremonial music at the Borghese Palace and spent the rest of his days. Along with Corelli and Scarlatti, Pasquini played a major part in the musical life of Rome, and was famous for his skill as both a harpsichordist and organist.

The two Passion cantatas featured on this new CD, Hor ch'il Ciel fra densi horrori and Padre, Signore e Dio, were composed for Holy Week at the Borghese Chapel, and comprise miniature oratorios. Although the chapel was relatively small, the instrumental forces used at the time for large-scale oratorios could reach 150 players. Here, the forces are much more modest, but the richness of Pasquini's scoring and the textures he created make for a lush and sumptuous sound. The music is sensual, dramatic and extremely beautiful: Pasquini was a composer of great skill, and his depictions of thunder and lightening as well as stormy seas are truly impressive.

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Image Lamento - Complete Songs
Andrea Mastroni, bass
Mattia Ometto, piano

French composer Henri Duparc lived from 1848 till 1933, but at age 37 a mental illness made him stop composing and eventually destroy most of his output. What was left is a superb body of songs, which are still regularly performed nowadays.

Duparc is a true heir to his French ancestors César Franck, Gounod and Fauré. But his encounter with Richard Wagner left a strong mark on his musical language, especially in the instrumental sonorities and highly chromatic harmonies.

Bass Andrea Mastroni is one of the foremost young vocalists in Italy, and has performed at world famous stages such as La Scala Milano, La Fenice, Bayerische Staatsoper, Theatre de Champs-Elysées, Opera National de Paris. He is expertly supported by pianist Mattia Ometto, a well known soloist, here in the role of a sympathetic duo partner.

Excellent liner notes by the artist in English and Italian.

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Image Le Nozze di Figaro
In a letter to his father on 13 October 1781, Mozart wrote, 'Why do Italian comic operas give such pleasure everywhere -- in spite of their miserable libretti...?' Because the music reigns supreme: when one listens to it all else is forgotten. Why an opera is sure of success when the plot is well worked out, the words written solely for the music and not shoved in here and there to suit some miserable rhyme... The best thing of all is when a good composer, who understands the stage and is talented enough to make sound suggestions, meets an able poet, that true phoenix.'Two years before he had met Lorenzo da Ponte, Mozart's frustration with the present condition of opera had reached boiling point. The collaboration between the two men produced three of the greatest operas in the repertoire -- Figaro, Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte. Adapting the second play in Beaumarchais' trilogy, da Ponte skilfully navigated a risky path through the plot that had lead to Emperor Joseph II (da Ponte had become court poet thanks to an introduction from Antonio Salieri) banning it. Themes of greedy aristocrats and officials lording it up over the common man who struggled to make ends meet was dangerous stuff when the French Revolution was being observed with horror by the crowned heads of Europe. Mindful of this, da Ponte produced a wonderful libretto, informing the Emperor of its revised 'non-offensive' content at every turn. Mozart was under no such constraints, and his wonderful score when set to da Ponte's words restores the daring satire and social commentary of the play in perhaps the most perfect opera ever composed. The premiere took place in Vienna in 1786.

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Image Haydn: Songs And Cantatas
A new recording featuring one of the most famous and best-loved of all early-music sopranos, Emma Kirkby. Marcia Hadjimarkos performs on a superb modern copy of a Walther fortepiano.

This CD contains the remarkable cantata Arianna a Naxos Haydn composed in 1789. Unlike the later cantata Berenice composed in London in 1795, Arianne is not scored for orchestra. Here the piano is given a virtuoso role especially in the recitatives. The drama of Arianna's desertion by Theseus is superbly realised by Haydn.

In September 1800, Lord Nelson, fresh from his victory over the French in the Battle of the Nile in 1797, visited Eisenstadt, together with Lord and Lady Hamilton. Lady Hamilton asked to sing Arianne during her visit. A member of the British party at Eisenstadt, Cornelia White asked Haydn to set words she had written celebrating Nelson's famous victory. He obliged with the cantata 'Lines from the Battle of the Nile', and work was performed by Emma Hamilton with Haydn at the piano.

The songs on this CD all resulted from a dinner in Vienna on December 1790. Haydn, Mozart and the violinist and impresario Salomon were discussing Haydn's trip to London. It was on this trip that Haydn became friendly with Anne Hunter, a talented poet, and wife of the eminent surgeon John Hunter. She was a friend of Walpole, and soon Haydn was in the 'polite society' of London. Anne either supplied the text, or selected texts by other writers, especially Shakespeare. This was a happy time in Haydn's life, and the songs are heartfelt, and emotional, foreshadowing the romanticism of Schubert, and reflecting possibly the romantic attachments the composer had made in London.

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Image The Gamblers
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-75) left us two operas, The Nose, and Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, plus the operetta Moscow Cheryemusski -- or so we thought. After his death several other operatic projects surfaced -- some merely sketches, a few numbers from a projected work, and some that exist only in his letters as ideas. As recently as 2009 the torso of a science fiction opera Orango -- dating from 1932 was unearthed.

Without doubt the most substantial of these tantalisingly incomplete works is The Gamblers, after the comedy by Gogol. Written in 1942, the year of the epic 7th symphony 'The Leningrad' , it occupied the composer almost constantly during this turbulent year. The work is characterised by an acidic black humour, there are no heroes, and no women. The unprincipled cardsharps are believed to represent the world leaders Chamberlain, Stalin and Mussolini playing a game of high stakes with Hitler's Germany -- the result of which is Russia being invaded. Shostakovich followed Gogol's text word for word -- he didn't need a libretto as he later commented. He soon realised that The Gamblers would never be performed as the satirical treatment of the Gogol story would land him in the Gulag. In spite of pleas from friends to complete the opera well after Stalin's death, he refused saying 'one should not step in to the same river twice'. The surviving 1st Act needed only a 3 page ending to complete it, and Gennady Rozhdestvensky supplied the missing material and conducted the premiere in 1978.

Other information
- Recording made in 1995
- Comprehensive booklet note

'the acute characterisation that Shostakovich brings to Gogol's offhand narrative, and the music's often startling originality accord it far more than mere curiosity value. Voices are a shade too prominent, ensuring clarity in this very human drama.' Gramophone January 1998

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Image Lamentations of Jeremiah
'Chapelle du Roi's present recording ... is of historic as well as musical interest ... the choir has ordered its dynamics with skill,' (Gramophone, June 1987)

Thomas Tallis served four monarchs in his post at the Chapel Royal, and was held in great esteem by his masters and colleagues. 'Tallis is dead, and music dies', said William Byrd, his most distinguished pupil. Tallis was a great survivor of the dangerous shifting sands of religious and court politics in England at the turn of the 16th century and his music displays remarkable craftsmanship. The intensity of expression, and the sheer unrivalled beauty and drama of his work enables it to reach out through the centuries and move the presentday listener. He is one the greatest English composers, and ranks among the 16th century's most significant composers. This recording brings together his two fine settings of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, and English adaptations of several of his best known Latin motets, including 'Sing and glorify heaven's high majesty' which is better known as Spem in alium -- the huge 40-part motet that has become his most famous work. Adapting Latin texts to English became an important task during the 1550s, and the process became known as 'contrafactum'. Contrafacta survive in the output of many of Tallis's contemporaries, especially John Taverner.

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Image Il Primo Libro Delle Canzoni A Quattro Voci
Marco Antonio Mazzone (1556-1626) was a composer, musician, clergyman, and author of several literary works. In his book of Madrigals for four voices he places the text and the music on the same level, the consanguinity of these two arts: “notes are the body of music and words are the soul, and as the soul must be followed and imitated by the body to be more worthy of it, so the notes must follow and imitate the words.” The first Madrigal book contains both secular and sacred songs. The performance by the ensemble “Le vaghe ninfe” follows the performance practice of the period, in which much importance was laid on variety: a cappella, voice and organ, tablature for guitar or harpsichord, alternating voices and instrumental ensemble. When the madrigal is performd with instruments only the music is preceded by the reading of the poem.

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