Series One of the BBC’s groundbreaking classical music programme follows renowned actor and former chorister Simon Russell Beale as he explores the flowering of Western sacred music. This four-part documentary series contains a rich mix of personal, political and musical stories and features some of the greatest music ever written, all performed by Harry Christophers and his award-winning choir, The Sixteen.
Compilations are highly useful in understanding the works of the inexhaustibly tuneful British composer Henry Purcell (1659-1695). He had a few big hits, like the Funeral Music for Queen Mary (which is included here) and the opera Dido and Aeneas (which isn't). But much of his best music is scattered around in small bits, residing within genres that are rather odd from today's perspective. Purcell spent much of his short adult life as a theater composer, and his incidental music, for example, is filled with perfect miniatures…
Old hand Peter Neumann recorded Mozart's Missa Solemnis KV 337 once before. Neumann is an authenticist that uses a period band. This recording is twice as good as the one he made previously, a rendition that included the organ sonata KV 336 between the Gloria and Credo sections, as he has done here.
First and foremost, Domenico Scarlatti is regarded as the greatest composer of binary harpsichord sonatas of all time, and that is as it should be: he wrote more than 600 of them and many are constantly recorded and played. However, early in his Italian career, Scarlatti developed a proven track record as a composer of sacred music, some of it under the watchful eye of his father, Alessandro Scarlatti, believed by many at the time as the top composer of the age. The fact most readily observed in regard to Domenico's sacred music is that his Stabat mater, composed in 1717 or 1718, was the work within that genre replaced in Rome by Giovanni Pergolesi's Stabat mater around 1735. The Scarlatti work was conceived in a different style to different strictures; while it has become the most recorded of Scarlatti's sacred works, it definitely suffers when paired with the Pergolesi owing to its immediacy and familiarity. On Coro's Iste Confessor, the Sixteen led by Harry Christophers widely opt for Scarlatti's own, other sacred music as filler to the "Stabat mater with results fairer to the composer and quite favorable to listeners.