Given the considerable number of recordings that have tried to place Renaissance compositions within the context for which they were written, it is odd that the same has so rarely been done for Bach. After all, most of Bach's output consists of Gebrauchsmusik, music written for daily use. This release by Scotland's historical-instrument Dunedin Consort and its leader John Butt shows the possibilities of this approach.
What a nice present! Just in time for the Christmas season 2015 Barbara Dennerlein is back with a new album! Combining elements from Pop, Funk, Soul and Fusion she creates Christmas Jazz at it´s best.
… are the personages in this "Christmas Cantata" written in 1712 for performance at the Vatican. The notes with the CD suggest a burden of historical and political allusions in the libretto, quite interesting in their way but utterly imperceptible to modern ears. Really, the recitativos and arias of Caldara's Vaticini di Pace sound remarkably like Handel - the same broad but expressive melodies, the same robust instrumental accompaniment, the same treatment of the voice as a thing apart from the instruments, so unlike the hard-to-sing instrument-like vocal lines of JS Bach. To listeners of 1712, of course, it would have been vice-versa, Handel who sounded like Caldara, since Caldara was fifteen years older and well established.
The Christmas concerto is an interesting subgenre of the baroque concerto grosso. Several Italian baroque composers wrote concerti designated for performance at Christmastime - this designation being by virtue of their pastoral or "musette" movements, such music being associated with the music of the sheperds of Bethlehem. Here Il Giardino Armonico performs a batch of Christmas concertos by Corelli, Vivaldi, Gemignani, and others. Giardino's astringent tone lacks the sweetness of Europa Galante (my preferred Italian period instrument ensemble), but their interpretations are bracing, sometimes startling in their dynamic contrasts, and full of life. They are, if you will, like a severe German alterpiece rather than a sweet Italian madonna.Amazon review