In late February 1653, just after the Fronde rebellion, the most influential spectacle of the early reign of Louis XIV was presented at the Louvre: the Ballet Royal de la Nuit. Grandiose, and carefully elaborated at the highest levels of the state, the libretto by Benserade called upon the finest artists of the time. Banishing the troubles of night, Louis XIV danced in the Sun King costume that would henceforth be forever associated with him. This unmissable world premiere recording presents a reconstruction of the work created by Sebastien Dauce that includes music by Jean de Cambefort, Antoine Boesset, Louis Constantin, Michel Lambert, Francesco Cavalli and Luigi Rossi.
In their first release on harmonia mundi France, Sébastien Daucé and his musicians present a sumptuous interpretation of the six-voice motets composed by Marc-Antoine Charpentier for the House of Guise. These works, headed by the Miserere, constitute an unexpected parenthesis in the music of the Grand Siècle. The creative genius, the inwardness and the intense fervour of a composer surrounded by his faithful company of singers and instrumentalists speak to us all the more intimately because Charpentier appears here as both copyist (the surviving scores are in his handwriting) and performer – he sang the haute-contre part.
Hearing or performing music comes closest in the range of human activity to a visceral connection to the past. As long as we have notation and knowledge of how to interpret it, we can effectively experience something like our ancestors did when they sang the same music. Of course, our 20th-century sensibilities and knowledge–or lack thereof–prevent us from sharing identical responses, but as with the music on this disc, when we hear it we are in some way transported to another place. We know a completely different sound world from our own; we know that the accepted order of certain things was different. And we also know that in many ways people haven't changed. Machaut's music conveys a spirituality–both joyful and contemplative–that's as true in its impact as it must have been 600 years ago, a point made ever so clearly by these especially vibrant and vital performances.
That's right, King! in Swedish, "Kong" rather than "Drottning"! Christina (1626-1689) was the only surviving child of Sweden's greatest monarch Gustavus Adolphus Vasa, who raised her to rule as a king and whose ministers executed his will by crowning the six-year-old girl King! Christina ruled under a regency until age 18, and then personally and earnestly over some eight years until her abdication in 1654. Her involvement in Swedish affair didn't terminate with her abdication, however. She returned to Sweden several times, on the last of which she might well have resumed her throne but for her whimsical conversion to Catholicism. She also drew her wealth, in her initial years in Italy, from vast estates in Sweden.
In seventeenth-century Germany, a Wunderkammer (typically translated as “Cabinet of Curiosities”) was a type of private museum collection in the home of an aristocrat. Always in search of the most fascinating music from this era, ACRONYM has unearthed a large number of previously unrecorded manuscript sonatas written by long-forgotten composers. Some of these pieces contain harmonic eccentricities, rhythmic or metric irregularities, or structural curiosities. This disc includes ten such works, ACRONYM's own musical Wunderkammer. The composers are Samuel Capricornus, Adam Drese, Johann Philipp Krieger, Andreas Oswald, Antonio Bertali, Daniel Eberlin, Philipp Jakob Rittler, Georg Piscator, Alessandro Poglietti, and Clemens Thieme.
This programme features concert music by composers who also wrote film scores for Hollywood. While this was just one string to the considerable bows of Gershwin and Copland, Bernard Herrmann and Franz Waxman are best known for their music for Hitchcock films (Vertigo, North by Northwest, Marnie and Psycho for Herrmann; and Rebecca and The Paradine Case for Waxman). Centre stage is Gershwin’s Song-book, arranged by the composer for solo piano in order to present the songs ‘as George Gershwin plays them himself’.