Tous ceux qui ont suivi avec quelque attention le mouvement occultiste ont entendu parler d’un mystérieux personnage qui a traversé la fin du XIXe siècle et qui a été généralement désigné sous l’appellation de « mage Philippe »…
The three Leçons de Ténèbres pour le mercredy (Tenebrae for Wednesday) are the only ones by François Couperin to have survived: 'recitations' destined to accompany the Office of the Tenebrae during one of the nights of Holy Week. Couperin is one of the uncontested masters in this exercise fusing vocal virtuosity and deep religious feeling.
The early opera of Antonín Dvorák recorded here definitely falls into the historical oddity category. It's in German, not Czech, set to a libretto by a poet long dead by 1870, when the work was composed, and it is unknown why Dvorák would have undertaken such a sizable project. The subject is a British king, Alfred the Great, who also inspired the opera by Thomas Arne that contains Rule, Brittania, and even shows up in the Vikings television miniseries.
Alfred Schnittke's Second Concerto Grosso is a different creature than his First. While the 1977 Concerto Grosso No. 1 for 2 Violins, Strings and Keyboards is a lithe, vicious, often comical work, the Second, finished five years later, is a weightier affair. The soloists are now violin and cello; the Baroque band is now a full orchestra with electric guitar, drum kit, and brake drum; there are four large movements rather than six smaller ones; the entire work is imbued with an air of sincere tragedy, albeit with mud on its shoes. Schnittke dedicated the work to its premiere soloists, husband-and-wife duo Oleg Kagan (violin) and Natalia Gutman (cello); famed for their flawless ensemble, the couple inspired in Schnittke a musical air of companionship – a single soul in two instruments.