At this time of year, I contemplate how grateful I am for my good fortune, including the gift of music my parents gave me. They were not musicians themselves, but they loved music and had many LPs in the house that played frequently, and they sang along and danced. They also had a piano, and when it came time for me to choose a band instrument they willingly rented, then bought, a flute for me. Soon after, they signed me up for private lessons.
Every year at this time, I create a list of suggestions for holiday gift giving. Starting November 19th and continuing through December, you can audition some of my recommendations from the annual Sunday Baroque Holiday Gift List. All of us at Sunday Baroque wish you and yours a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season filled with laughter, peace and an abundance of good music!
Harmonia Mundi 902296
Le Caravanésrail, Rachel Redmond – soprano
Period instrument ensemble Le Caravansérail plays a lovely collection of English baroque music by composers including Matthew Locke, Christopher Gibbons, Louis Grabu, John Blow and Henry Purcell. It’s an appealing collection of charming instrumentals as well as sassy theatre songs, sung by soprano Rachel Redmond.
Yo-Yo Ma – cello, Chris Thile – mandolin, Edgar Meyer – bass
Three extraordinary musicians join forces to play music by Johann Sebastian Bach in an unusual combination of instruments. Many (but not all) of the selections are familiar favorites, and the result is satisfying and beautiful. This is one of my personal favorite recordings of 2017!
BACH SUITES FOR CELLO
ECM New Series 2530/31
Thomas Demenga – cello
The renowned cellist tackles the “Holy Grail” of the cello repertory for the second time. This is a lovely recording by a skilled and thoughtful musician. You can even hear my recent conversation with Thomas Demenga about this recording of Bach’s Suites, the cello he used to play them, and his approach to music making in general. It’s archived at SundayBaroque.org in the “interviews” section.
CONCERTOS OF JOSEF GURETZKY
Chaconne CHAN 0816
The Harmonious Society of Tickle-Fiddle Gentlemen
The whimsical name of this ensemble alone should make you want to buy this CD! But if that’s not enough, it’s well worth it for these joyful, expert performances of appealing music by a not-very-well-known 18th century Czech composer. It’s a perfect CD for anyone looking to broaden their horizons!
DANIEL HOPE FOR SEASONS
Deutsche Grammophon 4796922
Daniel Hope – violin, Zurich Chamber Orchestra
Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons Concertos are the cornerstone of this fine recording, which also includes music Daniel Hope considers seasonal in its own ways. Other composers on this imaginative, thematic cd include Johann Sebastian Bach, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, and Kurt Weill. The violinist’s signature is his polished artistry, imaginative programming and sophisticated collaborations with other top musicians.
Channel Classics CCSSA39217
Rachel Podger – violin, Brecon Baroque
Four world-class musicians collaborate on violin sonatas by Antonio Vivaldi, Francesco Maria Veracini, Giuseppe Tartini and Johann Georg Pisendel. Violinist Rachel Podger, cellist Alison McGillivray, theorbo player Daniele Caminiti, and harpsichordist Marcin Świątkiewicz give a joyful performance of some lovely chamber music.
Early Music EMCCD7777
Claire Guimond – flute, Alexa Raine-Wright – flute, Jean-Louis Blouin – viola, Arion Baroque Orchestra
The period instrument group Arion plays spirited music by two composers from the later years of the baroque era – Georg Philipp Telemann and Johann Joaquim Quantz. Both men pursued music against their parents’ wishes for them, and both proved their families wrong by becoming accomplished musical innovators.
Angela Hewitt – piano
This is the second of pianist Angela Hewitt’s two (so far) volumes of Sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti. I am impressed that she is not merely plowing through Scarlatti’s Sonatas in order, like some monumental task to be completed. Instead she chose Sonatas she personally loves – it is evident in her playing, and makes for a delightful listening experience.
TELEMANN: CONCERTI PER MOLTI STROMENTI
Harmonia Mundi HMM902261
Akademie Fur Alte Musik Berlin
One of the world’s top period instrument ensembles takes on Concertos for multiple instruments by one of the most prolific composers of all time, Georg Philipp Telemann. What makes this recording extra special is that some of the featured instruments are off the beaten path, such as calchedon (a type of lute), hammer dulcimer and mandolin, in addition to more familiar instruments including oboes, horns and violins.
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Today is (apparently) World Kindness Day. I was alerted to this by a kind friend, and in looking up the observance I learned it was established on November 13, 1997 by a consortium of humanitarian groups. They wanted to encourage people to do something kind, whether it’s donating time, money or goods to a worthy organization or person, or committing an act of kindness — large or small — for a friend or stranger.