A page from the Eton Choirbook representing a motet by composer John Browne, whose reationship with the fabled school started as a choirboy in the 1460s.
There was an in-joke among English choristers in the late 15th century: “The French sing, Italians shake, Germans wail and the Enlish rejoice” (Galli cantant, Italiae capriant, Germani ululant, Anglici jublilant, in the original Latin).
The national slurs are silly, of course, but it’s pretty much impossible not to reach a state of bliss after listening to a new album featuring seven pieces chosen by English a capella choir Tonus Peregrinus from the Eton Choirbook, one of the rare sources of English sacred music from the closing decades of the 1400s. Continue reading →
For 11 straight years, pianist Martha Argerich has assembled her personal dream team of musicians for a festival in Switzerland — captured in an album of highlights.
MARTHA ARGERICH AND FRIENDS Live from Lugano 201 (EMI Classics)
A half-century of musicmaking seems only to have been a warmup for Argentinean pianist Martha Argerich, who continues to wow with the immediacy and love she pours into every note she plays. There is life force in everything she touches. Continue reading →
Camille Saint-Saëns in his element — on a steamship.
Repeat something enough times with conviction, and people start to believe it, whether it has to do with politics, economics or art.
French composer Camille Saint-Saëns, who bridged the Romantic and Modern eras thanks to an 86-year lifespan, was treated as a relic of a bygone age by his obituarists and university lecturers.
It’s a status that does not square with a legacy of rich craft he left behind, and which deserves a fresh look and listen now that we can have some perspective on the aesthetic steamroller of Modernism. Continue reading →
Frank Bridge completed The Sea at Eastbourne, on the Sussex coast, in July 1911.
Spend a couple of weeks near a large body of water and you’ll likely witness the seductive shimmer of water on a calm sunny day transform into a roiling, heaving monster in a matter of minutes. Anyone whose ankles have ever been suddenly lassoed by an undertow knows that water is a treacherous vacation partner. Continue reading →