Firederic Church, for the period of some twenty-five years encompassing the Civil War, occupied a preeminent position in the realm of American culture. During those years of remarkable growth in the intellectual life of the United States, from approximately 1855 to 1875, Church was his nation’s most famous painter and a pivotal figure in the world of art and society that centered on New York City. …
A new era in church music dawned with the creation of German-language sacred songs functioning as the counterpart to Latin Gregorian chant. The WESER-RENAISSANCE ensemble under its experienced conductor Manfred Cordes is now presenting a colourful selection of the most beautiful hymn settings from the Wittenberg first edition of 1524-25. The Urkantor Johann Walter was a close associate of Martin Luther and the founding father of the important institutional and artistic tradition of the Protestant cantorate.
This a gorgeous version of this difficult and, in my opinion, normally elusive piece. Shemer makes the harpsichord sing, dance, laugh, cry and meditate. Having his instrument tuned to A=392 and recorded in a church certainly helps the contemplative aspect of this work, and the sound is rich and never metallic, as with many versions. If ever there was a case for throwing piano versions into the bin of history, Shemer is your best advocate.
Masaaki Suzuki was better known as a keyboard player in the first decade or so of his career, but since about 1990 has established himself as one of the leading conductors of Baroque choral music. Suzuki was born in Kobe, Japan, on April 29, 1954. As a child he exhibited musical talent early on and by age 12 was a church organist. He later enrolled at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, where he studied composition and organ.
The Ensemble Pygmalion directed by Raphaël Pichon commences its collaboration with Harmonia Mundi with this new recording of J.S. Bach’s lost music to the Köthener Trauermusik (Cöthen funeral music), BWV 244a. Founded in 2006 at the European Bach Festival, Ensemble Pygmalion is a combination of choir and orchestra - all young performers with experience of authentic instruments and period-informed performance. Its repertoire concentrates primarily on Johann Sebastian Bach and Jean-Philippe Rameau.
Gustav Maria Leonhardt was one of the best-known leaders of the Early Music movement. A harpsichordist and organist and later a conductor, he was credited with being one of the most important figures in establishing the Netherlands as one of the main centers of period music performances. He had a classical education, then entered the Schola Cantorum in Basle. There he studied organ and harpsichord with Eduard Müller.