Items are listed in alphabetical order.
In France at the end of the seventeenth century Corelli’s influence was enormous. The more rational, formal French style had been dominated by Lully; French composers had to admit secretly to liking the more emotional Italian style. This rich banquet of private music composed for Louis XIV shows the first experiments in France with the Italian style. The disc concludes with what has been claimed as the first French sonata, an extraordinary work composed by Charpentier for eight instruments.Find out more and buy
This double CD presents two sets of cantatas by three composers: Telemann, Graupner, and J.S. Bach. The first disc has cantatas composed in 1722–3 as audition pieces for the job of Kantor at the Thomasschule in Leipzig. Both Telemann and Graupner were attractive and likely candidates, as these works prove. Bach – despite his subsequent glory – was the outsider. The second disc gives us cantatas by the same three composers a year later, composed for the same Sunday, 30 January 1724. The gospel reading for that day tells the story of Jesus stilling the storm at sea: the music reaches dramatic heights. These cantatas, with the addition of instrumental works by Telemann and Graupner, paint a substantial picture of music in Germany at that moment.Find out more and buy
What happens when great composers arrange each other’s works? J.S. Bach gave Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater a new text and a new viola part, making a fresh piece that speaks both of Germany and Italy. This performance features singers Rachel Elliott and Sally Bruce-Payne.
Mozart gave string players the pleasure of playing fugues from the Well-tempered Clavier II – fresh arrangements by The Bach Players complete the set of all the four-part fugues from this work.Find out more and buy
This is a selection of pieces that J.S. Bach had in his library and which provide a context for his celebrated Orchestral Suite in B minor. Some of these works J.S. Bach copied in his own hand (Dieupart, Johann Bernhard Bach, and Steffani), and one exists in his brother Christoph’s hand (Alcide by Marais, in arrangement for harpsichord). The Bach Players provide a perfect entertainment and throw light on the importance of the French style to J.S. Bach and his German contemporaries.Find out more and buy
This programme is centred on the chaconne: you will hear how Henry Purcell and J.S. Bach join hands in this much-loved dance form of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Of the few works of Philipp Heinrich Erlebach that survive, we perform a suite that concludes with a chaconne. The two Bach cantatas are contrasting: BWV 150 is said to be Bach’s earliest surviving cantata, BWV 78 was composed in Leipzig at the height of his career.Find out more and buy
Italian or French? Jean Baptiste Lully and Arcangelo Corelli were the champions of these two musical styles – and the main subjects of the many attempts to establish which style was better. Or could the two styles be united? This programme paints a musical picture of the later seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries in Europe, through the music of Corelli, Lully, and their contemporaries. Chief among the reconcilers was the organist and composer Georg Muffat. German but of Scottish ancestry, it was he who introduced both styles to Germany. Also included are Rebel’s homage to Lully and Couperin’s to Corelli. In this vivid recording The Bach Players bring history to life.Find out more and buy
Paris in the mid eighteenth century: the harpsichord was one of the leading solo instruments in the court of Versailles and in the salons of the nobility and bourgeoisie; there was a boom in the manufacture of large, sonorous harpsichords. In 1742 the former organist Jacques Duphly settled in Paris and, from then on, devoted himself exclusively to this instrument. He rapidly gained a reputation as one of the finest players and teachers in the city, praised for his delicate touch and graceful playing style.
This CD presents a selection of character pieces and stylized dance movements taken from three of his four books of pièces de clavecin, published over the course of almost 25 years. It includes his most famous pieces such as the grand Chaconne in F major and Médée, the only portrait of a mythological figure in the collection, as well as the lesser known but intriguing six movements with accompaniment by a violin. In this particular genre, the violin plays a supplementary role supporting the harpsichord, which remains the lead instrument. Imitative phrases alternate with passages where the violin simply duplicates the top voice of the harpsichord. This duplication has the effect of adding a special register to the harpsichord, and there are moments when the two instruments blend so well with each other that only one instrument seems to be playing.Find out more and buy
Simply put, the viola d’amore is a violin whose strings are underlaid by a set of resonating metal strings: when the bow is drawn across the main strings, these subsidiary strings are set in sympathetic motion, producing the characteristic silvery, glistening sound of the instrument. In the ‘age of the viola d’amore’ – from about 1680 to 1800 – this sound was highly prized: its yearning, aching quality provided an exact expression of the ‘naked, inflamed, fluttering heart’ of the ‘age of feeling’. This programme gathers ‘divertissements’ from southern Germany, largely from the collection of the Dresden concert master Georg Pisendel. As Anne Schumann writes, the viola d’amore is not an instrument for a virtuoso: it is for somebody who loves sound.Find out more and buy
The Bach Players explore the form of the French overture in two cantatas by J.S. Bach: the thrilling Advent cantata ‘Nun komm der Heiden Heiland’ (BWV 61), from his Weimar years, and ‘In allen meinen Taten’ (BWV 97) from his later years in Leipzig. They play a dance suite by Philipp Heinrich Erlebach, opening with another French overture. To complete the disc, Heinrich Isaac’s beautiful ‘Innsbruck ich muß dich lassen’, which provides the choral melody for cantata 97, is sung a capella, and is played in two instrumental settings.Find out more and buy
This is a double CD. Each disc presents cantatas set by both Pachelbel and Bach: ‘Christ lag in Todesbanden’ and ‘Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan’. In the first case the older composer’s influence on Bach’s writing is very clear; in the second, we hear the mature Bach. Also on the discs: Pachelbel’s beautiful Canon and two of his sacred concertos; J.S. Bach’s stirring cantata for solo alto voice ‘Widerstehe doch der Sünde’, and an arrangement of the lesser known canons from the Goldberg Variations.Find out more and buy
Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber (1644–1704) wrote his Rosary (or Mystery) Sonatas when he was working in the service of the Archbishop Max Gandolph von Kuenburg in Salzburg, to whom they are dedicated. These rich and complex pieces may now be part of a Baroque violinist’s repertoire, but they have never been recorded like this before. Anne Schumann and Sebastian Knebel play the pieces in the village church of Friedelshausen (Thüringia) and we hear the violin and the church’s organ in their full glory – the sound filling the space of the building. Schumann sees the Rosary sonatas as a collection of short stories: ‘With a violin I tell and paint the secrets of the rosary. The stories are meant to please but also stir, and encourage prayer and meditation.’ This is the first of a set of three CDs of the 15 Rosary sonatas (and the Passacaglia for solo violin), each recorded in a different Thüringian church, and each including a work for organ that shows the unique qualities of these church instruments. The second and third CDs, recorded in the churches of Kaltenlengsfeld and Waltershausen, are due for release later in 2015.Find out more and buy
How the Italian improvisatory ‘stylus fantasticus’ travelled from Italy to Germany, with music by Bertali, Weckmann, Valentini, Schmelzer, Froberger, and others.Coming soon. Find out more