In the Baroque period 1600-1750 music was enriched by new vocal forms, opera, oratorio's and by instrumental forms such as the Sonata and the concerto. Secular music became popular and tipped patronage away from the churches to the courts and eventually the public. However, the Classical period 1750 to the early 1800's was a period of change in ideas. Revolutions overthrew the social order in France, and the American Independence from Britain. It was the age of reason, or what we call objective, or detached thinking. ( See my reviews below). For example, a group of writers known as the philosophers, laid the groundwork for the French Revolution, in a movement known as the Enlightenment. At their head was Voltaire who attacked religion as mere supersition and promoted reason, tolerance and justice. Other writers upheld the cause of democracy and the rights of the individual.
The term Classical in music is less clear; but as far as I can gather, it means clarity, simplicity, moderation and balance. Thus relying upon unadorned melody and harmony, a break away from Baroque music. So Mozart whose music is emotional but highly controlled, is considered Classical, but Beethoven is considered a bridge between Classical and the Romantic period, but is in reality a Romantic. However, the sonata, Concerto, symphony and opera via Gluck, who declared that music served the text, and the demands of the plot, all were transformed into what we know today. However, the booklet makes the mistake that the listener owes how we listen to music because of the 18th centuries Classical agenda. In fact, it was the Romantic era's ideas; emotion and imagination over reason, individual expression over restraint which really transformed music. Also, its worship of nature, a rebellion against industrial society, and the view that they were at the mercy of the elements, rather than in control of them as the classical artists attempted to do. Basically, patronage had shifted from the aristocratic courts to the middle classes, without which the arts could not be as independent collectively. Today, we are still in the grip of the Romantic attitude towards music; the Baroque and Classical periods were merely the beginning of music as we now know it. Today, we are in the greatest revolution the world has yet seen, because of our Worldwide new technology, but as a society we cannot really cope with it. And also, more people are turning away from Christianity in the West, using science to answer the big questions, or forming their own individual religious belief systems. I wonder how music and society will change once again?
The smallish cardboard box set has a lid that falls backwards.But it is strongly attached to the box. Also, inside the box, is another to protect the CDs. At the top end is a black plastic box to support the CDs and in the front a 263 page booklet. The lid is orange and the box black. Behind are details of the music, but not in order. Inside is a pamphlet with CD numbers, composers and music to be played, devided into sections. Behind, describes what the set is about, for example, the pieces of music are placed under the following headings, the apotheosis of the Baroque concerto, the classical concerto, monuments of Classicism, the last glories of tragedie lyrique, Gluck's reform, the Baroque sonata trio, from the sonata to the Classical trio, the birth of the quartet. A very good idea because by using the pamphlet you save damage to the booklet. The sleeves start off as orange with red wording on the front, with a 18th century design as have all the sleeves. The number on the front is big, starts off as white and gradually changes colour. But then the sleeves change into various shades of brown, then green, with dark green wording which balances the red. Behind on a black background in white are the composers, track numbers, works to be played, and who is the soloist, or directing it. CD same as the Sleeve, with a big number on it. You cannot get lost
The sound is I assume DDD, but there is no mention of it. By hearing the CDs, I have been able to deduce this fact. However, the booklet has the CD number, track number, pieces to be played, Orchestra, Soloists, and who is conducting, much as you would expect. Then a essay "music of the Enlightenment" by Stephanie Roth, plus details about the composer's. All in French, English and German. Actually, I consider this box set the twin of the box set Vivarte, 60 CDs. This box set takes in the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical and Early Romantic age. It has a booklet with details about the composers, articles by the musicians, in fact everything you need to know about the music and the various eras. I consider it the best box set available with period instruments.(see my review).
I shall go across the page, with the composer first, pieces of music to be played, soloists, orchestra, directors etc. At the end I shall place some of my comments, or those from the Penguin year book 1996 & 2008, Gramophone classical year book 2009. I will place the CDs in order.
COUPERIN:(1668-1733) Vingt cinquieme ordre. Vingt-sixieme ordre. Sixieme ordre. Chris Rousset-harpsichord. RAMEAU:(1683-1764) Pieces de clavecin en concerts. Premier concert. Cinquieme concert. Rousset- harpsichord. Ryo Terakado violin. Koari Uemura viola de gamba. Suites of a sucession of dance movements. Each ordre has a title that might be the name of a person, object, or mood. He used elements of French and Italian music. The playing is spirited. Rousset imagination lights up the music making. CAMPRA: (1660-1744) Messe de Requiem. Choir de La Chapelle Royal. orchestra de La Chapelle Royal. Dir Phillippe Herreweghe. The requiem is a lovely work, with luminous textures and often begiling harmonies, and its neglect is hard to understand. The performance is refined. PERGOLESI: (1710-1736) Stabat Mater. Prohaska soprano. Bernarda Fink alto. Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin. Written in the last few months of the composers brief life. He enjoyed a huge popularity throughout the 18th century. HANDEL: (1685-1750) Solomon. It is recognised as one of Handel's masterpieces. Connolly, Gritton, Sampson, Padmore. Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin, direction Reuss. RIAS chamber choir, Berlin. The choir is always compelling.Reuss's solo cast could not be bettered. Sarah Connelly, a Mezzo, is Solomon. She sings with ardour and rapt inwardness. Gritton makes a gently sensuous queen. This redition of Solomon has glorious Handel singing.
VIVALDI: (1678-1741) The Four seasons: Midori Seiler violin. Akademe fur Alte Musik Berlin Dir Clemens Nussbaumer. This version is not as good as Tafelmusiks imaginative version of four seasons on original instruments. (see my review -Vivarte).TELEMANN:(1681-1767) Violin "The Frogs" Midori Seiler violin. Akademie fur Musik, Berlin, dir Stephan Mai. The good humour of Telemann and his fondness for a musical joke are illustrated with imitation of frogs. The players bring out all the fun with the energy of their playing. J.S. BACH:(1685-1759) Brandenburg Concerto No 6 Bwv 1051. Academy of Ancient Music. Richard Egarr dir and harpsichord. HANDEL: Concerto pour orgue op 4 No 3. Academy of Ancient Music. Richard Egarr dir and Organ. TARTINI:(1692-1770)Concerto Grosso No 5. Concerto for violin and orchestra. Enrico Gatti violin/ Ensemble 415 dir Chiara Banchini. MONN:(1717-1750) Concerto for Cello, harpsichord and string orchestra. Freiburger Barockorchestra dir Petra Mullejans. C.P.E BACH: (1714-1788). Harpsichord Concerto No 5 Wq 43. Andreas Staier. Freiburger Barockorchester. Dir Petra Mullijans. J.C. BACH: (1735-1782) London Baroque.
HAYDN:(1732-1809) Violin concerto No 1. Freiburger Barockorchester. Dir Von der Goltz with Violin. MOZART:(1756-1791) Concerto K 107 No 2. London Baroque. Symphonie concertante K 297-b. Freiburger Barockorchester. Dir Von der Goltz. PLEYEL: (1757-1831) Cello concerto Ben 106. Akademie fur alle Musik berlin. Dir Stephan Mai. MOZART: Piano Concerto No 21 K 467. Camerata Salzburg. Stefan Vladar dir & piano. The Andante is well played. BEETHOVEN:(1770-1827) Piano Concerto No 2 op 19. Paul Lewis piano (Steinway) BBC Symphony Orchestra dir Jiri Belohlavek. As good as any I have heard.
SAMMARTINI:(1700-1775) Sinfonia in D major. Sinfonia in G major. Ensemble 415 dir Chiara Banchini. Neither attains greatness, but they are appealing. W.F.BACH:(1710 -1784) Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin, dir Stephan Mai.Falck 67. Has a gracious Andante and ends with a warm Minuet. Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin, dir Stephan Mai. C.P.E BACH.Orchester-Sinfonie No 1. The English Concert. Dir Andrew Manze. This is the work of a forceful and original composer, one perhaps out to shock. This performance is full of life. J.C Bach. Symphony in G Minor op 6, no 6. Akerdemie fur alte musik Berlin dir Stephan Mai. BOCCHERINI (1743-1805) Symphony " La Casa del Diavolo" op 12 no 4. Ensemble 415, dir Chiara Banchini. Boccherini's silken melancholy strongly featured in the lyrical writings.
HAYDN: Symphony No 6 "Le Matin". This symphony is beautiful and well played. Symphony No 7 " Le Midi" Freiburger Barockorchester dir Petra Mullejans. She has captured the essence of Haydn. MOZART: Symphony No 31 "Paris" K297. Freiburger Barockorchester. Dir von der Goltz. HAYDN: Symphony No 92 "Oxford". Finale- the springy Haydn sound. Generally swift tempi. Symphony No 41 "Jupiter" K 551. Freiburger Barockorchester. Cond Rene Jacobs. Brings out the lovely melodies of Mozart, capturing its spirit. Swift tempi and highly successful. BEETHOVEN: Symphony No 9. Melanie Diener soprano. Petra Lang Mezzo. Endrik Wottrich tenor. Dietrich Henschel bass. La Chapelle Royale, Collegium Vocale. orchestre des champs-Elysees. dir Phillippe Herreweghe. Tempi Herreweghe. Mov 1. 13.30. Mov 2. 13.19. Mov 3. 12.26. Mov 4. 23.02. Norrington Mov 1 14.09. Mov 2 14.17. Mov 3 11.08. Mov 4. 22.42. Both have extremely quick tempi and played with period instruments and worth while owning. The 9th symphony is not really Classical but an icon of the Romantic period, and its last movement inspired Wagner greatly. But it reminds us, that the Romantic movement was very important, but that was not the intension of Harmonia mundi.
RAMEAU: (1683-1764) Castor & Pollux. Les Arts Florissants. Dir William Christie uses the original 1733 text. Christie's performance consistently benefits from the dramatic timing. There are fine soprano's such as Veronique Gens and Sandrine Piau in small roles, therefore the cast has no weaknesses. If you like this opera, you may also favour Les Indes Galantes, with William Christie, an American who is a French citizen, conducting Les Arts Florissants. Obtain it on DVD, Amazon has it. Excellent. GLUCK: (1714-1787) Orfeo Ed Euridice. Bernarda Fink (Mezzo) Orfeo. Eurdice Veronica Cangemi soprano. Amor Maria Kiehr soprano. RIAS Kammerchor.Freiburger Barockorchester, Cond Rene Jacobs. This version is the pure Italian text, which means the dance of the blessed spirits and the enhanced ending to "Che faro" as well as the D minor Dance of the Furies is missing. The overture is highly energetic which set the tone for the rendition of this opera. Orpheus is sung by mezzo Bernarda Fink, which is often sung by a counter tenor. here Fink sings the role beautifully. This is the best version of the Italian original sung with a woman as Orpheus. MOZART: Le Nozze di Figaro. Rene Jacobs conductor of Concerto Koln, always brings new ideas to the operas he conducts, adding something of his own to the opera. He is freer over tempi than most. Veronique Gens offers a passionate "Dove Sono". Ciofi is delighful. Angelika Kirchschlager, mezzo, Cherubino, is alive and urgent in " non so piu". The count of Simon Keenlyside is powerful, lean and dark. Mclaughlin soprano sings Marcellina with distinction.
VIVALDI: Sonata in C minor. TELEMANN: Sonata in A minor. Paul Goodwin is one of the finest Baroque oboists at the moment, so it must be worth while listening to. He makes an indispensible creative contribution to the success of this piece. J.S BACH: Sonata Sopr'il Soggetto Reale. C.P E. BACH. Sonata in F major. J.C.F BACH: Sonata A Major. SCHOBERT: (1740?- 1767) Sonata in F major op XV1 No 4. For violins, cello and pianoforte. A very tuneful piece well played. He had an influence on the young child prodigy Mozart. KUHNAU: (1660-1722) Frische Clavier Fruchte. John Butt Harpischord. He was Bach's predecessor in Leipzig. He wanted to show that the Germans could write viable music. MONDONVILLE: (1711-1772). Pieces de clavecin avec voix et violin op 5. Judith Nelson soprano. Stanley Ritchie Violin. William Christie Harpsichord. MOZART: Sonata in F major K 376. Sonate in G major K 379. Chiara Banchini violin, Vesselinova fortepiano. HAYDN: Trio in C major no 43. MOZART: Trio in G major K 496. The Mozastean Players. BEETHOVEN: Trio in C minor op 1, no 3. Sepec violin, Queyras Cello, Staier fortepiano.
HAYDN: Sonata No 33, No 39, no 60 & 62. Alain Planes piano. MOZART: Sonata in E flat major K 282. Sonata in C major K 330. Sonata in F major K 332. Sonata in C minor K 457. Andreas Staier fortepiano. BEETHOVEN: Sonata in F minor no 1. Sonata in D minor no 17 " The tempest". Sonata in E flat major no 21 " Waldstein". Paul Lewis piano. Lewis's musicianship is worth their weight in gold; every bar declares his Calibre. He is immersed in Beethoven's creative genius. His rendition of "Waldstein" is not conventional.
TELEMANN: Sonata prima in A major. Freiburger Barock consort. MOZART: String Quartet in C major no 4 K 157. HAYDN: String Quartet in C major op 33/3. Jerusalem Quartet. STAMITZ: Oboe Quartet in D major op 8. Paul Goodwin, oboe. Terzetto. MOZART: String Quartet in B flat major no 17 K 458. HAYDN: String Quartet in D minor op 76 no 2. Jerusalem Quartet. BEETHOVEN: String Quartet in B flat major op 18 no 6. Tokyo String Quartet. The Gramophone 2009 Classical year book states this Toyko op i8 pips all rivals to the post. The sound they make is stunning. BEETHOVEN: String Quartet in B flat major no 13 op 130. The 5th movement, Cavatina. Adagio molto expressivo. Furtwangler wrote a orchestral version of this movement, recorded 1940 with the Berlin Philharmonic.(See my review of Furtwangler's Legacy.) Heartbreakingly beautiful. String Quartet in F major no 16 op 135. Tokyo String Quartet. The Tokyo's 130 and 135 are the best I have heard-T. CD-ROM SUNG TEXT. ORATORIO & OPERAS.
REFERENCES: Lloyd, N. The Golden Encyclopedia of music.1968. The golden Press New York. Stanley, J. Classical music.1994 Reed international books Ltd.