Mstation Classical Reviews

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Fri, 01 Apr 2005

Elgar, The Enigma Variations

DVD, BBC Opus Arte

Sir Edward Elgar Bt. (1857 - 1934) was the son of a piano tuner, and as a commoner, married a Baroness who's allowance was cut off for marrying such a nonentity. Pleasingly, the marriage agreed with him to such an extent that he produced all his greatest work during it and subsequently became one of England's most loved (Land of Hope and Glory) and honoured composers.

The Enigma Variations was the start of his reputation and all the honours that flowed his way. They consist of a series of short pieces that were each inspired by a friend. On this DVD we get a tour of the characters by the conductor, Sir Andrew Davis, along with comments on the music itself. We also get the performance as a whole, filmed at Worcester Cathedral, close by where Elgar lived in the Malvern hills.

It's a really nice and fairly effortless way to get to know a little about Elgar. The music is well performed. It's beautifully shot at the cathedral and the hills and country and the recording is first class. (Count K)

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Binchois, Dufay

Dufay (att), Mass for St. Anthony Abbot
Binchois, Motets and Mass movements
The Binchois Consort
Andrew Kirkman
LP, Hyperion

We are in the 15th century, and before the Reformation. Guillaume Dufay lived approximately between 1397 and 1474 and Gilles Binchois between 1400 and 1460.

This recording, which was partially sponsored by the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers (Andrew Kirkman is a professor there), gives us a ten movement plenary mass, and from Binchois, the only surviving isorhythmic motet as well another motet and three mass movements; a Kyrie, Sanctus, and Agnes Dei.

They are all beautiful works, some of which are bound together by St. Anthony, and all of them by the proximity of history. The performance is better than able and the recording first class. There are also useful note and the words are included in English and Latin.

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Baroque Trumpet

Italian Baroque Trumpet Music
Stephen Keavy, Crispian Steele-Perkins, 
The Farley of Instruments
Peter Holman

LP, Helios

This is a survey CD with works by Albrici, Bononcini, Cazzati, Corelli, Fantini, Franceschini, Mancini, Mayyeis, Pallavacino, Stradella and Viviani.

Early trumpets were a length of tubing bent to form a loop and pitched in C or D and the blowers were not considered to be musicians but rather soldiers with a job to blow fanfares and military noises.

In the 1660's however, in Germany and Bologna, Venice and Rome, efforts were made to incorporate trumpets into orchestral settings. No one is sure who was first with this work but, in any case, here we have some beautiful results to admire.

These are zesty performances and have the nice added advantage for jaded palets (mine is not!) that they will be new to most people. (Count K)

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