The oboe was a special instrument for Bruno Maderna, and he filled these three concertos (composed in 1962-3, 1967 and 1973) with solo lines in which sharply fragmented and fluently rhapsodic materials constantly interact. Heinz Holliger, in turn, pours all his unrivalled dexterity and capacity for infinitely varied expressive nuance into the performances here. Yet the music remains problematic.
A beguiling rarity. Johann Sebastian’s youngest and most cosmopolitan son composed this serenata in London in 1772. The plot revolves around the triangular relationship between Diana, her nymph Nice and Endymion, slyly manipulated by Cupid and culminating in the obligatory paean to love. In the booklet, Bruno Weil dubs Endimione ‘one of the first operettas’; but though there are touches of cruel humour, usually at Nice’s expense, the musical idiom and structure, based on a sequence of elaborate arias, are essentially those of opera seria. Bach’s suave, mellifluous style often sounds like Mozart minus the master’s dynamic impulse and control of long-range tensions. But there are memorable numbers here, above all in the slow cavatinas for Endymion and Diana, with their delicate, Watteau-esque sensuality. Virtually everything depends on the four principals, who all rise to their challenges. Chief honours go to Ann Monoyios, a graceful, sweet-toned Nice, and Vasiljka Jezovšek as Diana, stylish and shapely in her concerto-like aria with flute obbligato. As Cupid, Jörg Waschinski deploys that rare phenomenon, a falsetto soprano, with some panache, while Jörg Hering is personable, if faintly bland, as Endymion. Direction and orchestral playing are highly capable, with the wind relishing the lavish opportunities Bach offers them. (Richard Wigmore)
Italian opera, the most truly international of genres, spread far and wide all over Europe in the eighteenth century: Vienna, London, Dresden and St Petersburg were no less important as centres of Italian opera than Venice, Rome and Naples - indeed, they occasionally assumed even greater importance than Italian cities in stimulating composers to explore new avenues. A post at a court in northern Europe meant excellent pay for an Italian composer, as well as the chance to work with a degree of ease that was unknown in his homeland. This was a period in which a composer's earnings, were rarely sufficient to allow him to live comfortably. A prestigious, well-paid position abroad for a few years enabled a composer to set aside a little sum for his old age, and was a sort of gratification that none would wish to renounce. Thus it was that many successful composers set off for foreign lands, if for no other reason than to cash in on the success they had known in Italy in their youth, when the struggle to find a place at the top and the rhythm of production of operas obliged musicians to turn out as many as five or six works a year so as not to risk disappearing from the public eye.
During the 1750s Niccolo Piccinni was one of the most popular opera composers at the major houses in Rome and Naples - but of the more than one hundred works he wrote for stage, most have fallen into oblivion. His greatest enduring success was the buffo opera La Cecchina, which enjoyed its premiere performance in Rome in 1760. The libretto was written by the Venetian poet Carlo Goldoni, based on the Samuel Richardson novel Pamela published in 1740. Piccinni's opera was pioneering in terms of style and helped establish his fame far beyond Italy's borders. Although the composer stayed true to the traditional form, he replaced the caricaturing and parodying depiction of the characters with an affectionate, sensitive and very human interpretation…
In recent decades, both Reminiscing and Showcase have enjoyed less than stellar reputations among Buddy Holly fans and '50s rock purists, as both albums were made up of the products of producer Norman Petty's posthumous redubbing of Holly's unfinished demos. Apart from the bizarre inclusion of "Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie" – a B-side chosen by Petty for the single of the title track – Reminiscing is a very solid album, and was essential to the maintaining of Holly's memory, reaching number three in a six-month run on the U.K. charts in 1963; one can just about lay odds that various members of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were among the listeners of this album or its successor.
Like jazz, the blues has its share of late bloomers – artists who didn't start recording or didn't become well-known until they were well into their 50s or 60s. R.L. Burnside is very much a late bloomer; the Mississippi bluesman was born in 1926, but it wasn't until the 1990s that he started to enjoy the publicity he deserved. Recorded in 2000, Wish I Was in Heaven Sitting Down finds the veteran singer continuing to be fairly unpredictable at 73. Essentially, this CD falls into the Mississippi blues category – Burnside maintains the earthy, down-home rawness that people expect from Mississippi country-blues. But Burnside certainly isn't without urban influences, and this CD illustrates his appreciation of John Lee Hooker and early Muddy Waters as well as the Texas blues of Lightnin' Hopkins.