My radio introduced me to...
Sometimes the radio introduces me to wonderful new music I've never heard before. I thought this might be worth a topic on its own.
Yesterday, while listening to SiriusXM's Symphony Hall channel, I discovered not only a new work, but a composer I had never heard of before: Bortniansky. Be still my beating heart! His choral works are transporting. They were playing his Sacred Concerto No. 32:
I'm now working my way through all of his Sacred Concertos.
Sacred Concerto No. 32
This morning on the radio I heard a rather different choral work: Jonathan Dove's "They will rise." The recording they played was from a recent issue from Hyperion, so not available on Apple (or Idagion, presumably.) The sound on YouTube is not so good, but it's still a rousing piece.
They will rise (Jonathan Dove) – Choir of Westminster Abbey 2018 - YouTube
Does a "choral concerto" qualify as a "motet" I wonder.
I reckon so! Given how many varied things qualify as a motet, Bortniansky's Choral Concertos certainly seem to fit the bill.
(Concertos or concerti - is one correct and the other not? Interchangeable? Each correct in certain contexts, ie. native tongue of composer?)
I read a little about Bortniansky the other day, but I'd like to dig into his life some more.
Not quite an introduction, but I’d forgotten how much I liked CPE Bach’s concerto in F for two harpsichords, Wq 46, until I re-heard it this afternoon on BBC Radio 3. It was a stunning performance by Andreas Staier and Luca Quintavalle with the Controcorronte Orchestra, broadcast, I believe, from a concert in Seoul.
Here’s a recording of the same concerto played by Staier, but with a different team, from 35 years earlier:
[edit: ooops, that link wasn’t very informative. The recording was Staier and Robert Hill, with Musica Antiqua Köln under Goebel. Unfortunately this recording doesn’t have the immediacy of the live performance, esp in the second movement. Perhaps there’s a better recording?]
@jen I missed that on Afternoon Concert. As it has been a long-time favourite of mine too, from the Musica Antiqua Koln recording, I went to BBC Sounds to listen to it, but found that this item was not on the replay! I started with the Roderick Williams, which interested me not in the slightest.
Instead, I listened to Miklos Spanyi's recording on BIS, which is part of his complete CPE Bach keyboard concertos recordings. I worked through this series while Primephonic was running (I have been a keen fan of CPE Bach for over 50 years) reaching the last volume, which contains this concerto, just before Primephonic ceased to exist. I have also just re-listened to the MAK recording, which makes rather more of CPE's dynamic changes than does the Spanyi.
Another Bach son's concerto, which I have also loved for over 50 years, is the concerto in f minor by JC (or is it WF?) Bach. I first came across this on a Raymond Leppard record published in 1970, where it was attributed to WF Bach, but I have since found that its attribution is in doubt, JC, WF and CPE have all been suggested. Many recordings give it as JC, but to my ears WF or CPE would seem much more likely, as the angular themes and dynamic contrasts do not seem like JC to me, but I am no scholar! The Leppard does not seem to be available now, but two recent recordings are from Rondeau (where it is identified as 'W. C73' and played with one-to-a-part instrumentation, and from Dantone with Il Giardino Armonico, a much larger orchestra. This recording, although on Amazon where I listen, does not seem to be on Idagio, but is on Apple ( I particularly love the point, about 2:20 into the slow movement of this recording, where the harpsichord floats off into such a beautiful passage - it always gives me goosebumps!
I hope this post works. It failed the first time and I had to restore, but could not then see how I should post the restored text.
I went to BBC Sounds to listen to it, but found that this item was not on the replay!
Oh, that’s a shame - another of BBC Sounds’ idiosyncrasies 😕
I’ve listened the Staier/Hill recording with MAK more times than I care to mention since posting yesterday, and much prefer that to Spanyi’s ‘flatter’ performance. The second movement of that CPE concerto is simply spellbinding.
And yes, I’m very fond of the slow movement of JC/WF Bach’s F minor harpsichord concerto too! Jean Rondeau’s recording is excellent, as is the whole of that Dynasties album. It’s a shame the Diavolo album isn’t on Idagio (and surprising too, since many of Giardino Armonico’s recordings are available)… I’ll put that on my wish list 😊
As an aside, I’m forever intrigued by the works of the Bach family and friends that are of uncertain authorship… the apocryphal cantatas and motets and so many other works that have been mis-attributed or remain a mystery. Perhaps a subject for a future new topic?
Interesting… the CPE Bach F major concerto is there from around 2hr05 on Friday’s Afternoon Concert recording, but seems to have dropped off the programme listing (at least for me on the IOS Sounds app).
I do love the immediacy and rawness of this concert performance, but am also growing to love Staier’s recording with MAK, to the extent I’m no longer sure which I prefer 😊
@jen So it is! The track listing on the website and on the Sounds player gives the concerto as the first item rather than the last. The Radio Times gives it as the last but one item!
I will listen to it this evening.
Oh, the Bortniansky is lovely.
@jen Having now listened to the BBC recording, I definitely prefer the MAK performance. For one thing, the sound quality is much superior, which is a very important factor for me, and also the live soloists seemed to lack some synchronisation on occasion (a result of being live!). In addition, I felt that the harpsichord on the right of the image might have benefitted from a touch of tuning.
Thanks for these recommendations. The slow movements of both concertos are lovely and the recordings (F Major by Musica Antiqua Koln and F minor by Rondeau etc) are gorgeous. I also loved the finale of the CPE Bach.
also the live soloists seemed to lack some synchronisation on occasion (a result of being live!)
Yes indeed - the pleasures and perils of a live broadcast concert!
In general, I can happily accept an occasional wrong note or missed timing, or an instrument being a bit fickle in its environment, for the pleasure of musicians taking risks to create a performance that is of the moment. But that trade-off is an interesting one!
We’ve talked of Biber’s F minor Requiem elsewhere on these forums and I’m a big fan of much of his oeuvre, so I was delighted to ‘discover’ his only surviving opera, Arminio, on the radio yesterday.
It’s a long opera, with substantial sections of recitative, but plenty of delights:
The aria Giove! Numi! Deh dite (Act I, track 7), has been my earworm this morning 😊
And what about track 10, also from Act 1? A surprise at 4’45, and another at 9’. These sound almost contemporary to me (or medieval?), but we’re soon back to more typical Biber.
BBC Radio3 Composer of the Week is such a treasure. A whole week of Biber!