Richard Wagner, the most controversial figure the arts have ever seen, whose music can move and overwhelm like no other, continues to divide the spirits even today. The year 2013, when we celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth, is inevitably going to be devoted to the man and his work.
The Complete Wagner Operas offers the best of Deutsche Grammophon, two operas each from Decca and the BBC and EMIs Rienzi.
This 20-disc box set has been entertaining me for several months. Dutch pianist Ivo Janssen set up his own record label to distribute his 1997 Goldberg Variations, recorded on the hoof over two days in Haarlem. Its success prompted him to tackle Bach’s complete keyboard output. And there’s a sense of fly-by-night impetuosity about some of these performances, all taped in the same venue with the same producer, the cycle finally finished in 2009.
This monumental set of recordings, originally on Das Alte Werk LP, collects Frans Bruggen performing a variety of pre-baroque, baroque and rococco works for recorder(s). Frans Bruggen put the recorder on the map as a solo instrument, and no one before or since has made such a huge impact, nor had Bruggen's musicality and expressiveness. Once the world's most famous recorder player, today Frans Brüggen is considered among the foremost experts in the performance of eighteenth century music. He studied the recorder with Kees Otten and flute at the Amsterdam Muzieklyceum. In addition, he took courses in musicology at the University of Amsterdam.
English composer and violinist William Brade was a significant transitional figure in instrumental music between the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Brade is credited with transplanting English musical practices most readily associated with William Byrd, Peter Philips, and John Dowland to North German and Scandinavian soil, and in aiding the transformation from the Renaissance notion of the English consort to the more continental Baroque idea of a string orchestra.