Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Grand and richly scored music from the English Baroque

Unless you're immersed in the English choral tradition (I'm not), you might not be too familiar with John Blow's music (again, nope), but this is fabulous music, a real find. The 17 members of St. James' Baroque provide impeccable Historically Informed early Baroque orchestral support for the 34 very fine singers of the New College Oxford Choir, in this new disc from Novum (to be released August 12, 2016). These anthems are very close in style and quality to the much better known music of his colleague Henry Purcell, and indeed Robert Quinney points out in his liner essay that the two composers worked very much in a collaborative fashion: "... we might readily imagine two musicians, whose relationship encompassed the copying, completion and even revision of each other’s music, exchanging professional appointments with an informality that subsequent generations have found difficult to comprehend." The anthem God spake sometime in visions, written for the coronation of James II and Mary of Modena in 1685 is an especially grand piece, richly scored and full of felicitous passages of choral and instrumental colour. It seems propitious that this music comes from Handel's birth year; this splendid style suited English ecclesiastical and court music then and in the coming years of Handel's ascendancy.

There's more information, including a sample track and expanded CD notes, at the Choir of New College Oxford website.

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