George Guest is generally regarded among the finest British choral conductors of his time. Some musicologists have attributed the endurance, if not the very survival, of the English cathedral choir to him. He made more than 60 recordings with St. John's Choir (Cambridge), covering a broad range of repertory (Palestrina and Mozart to Tippett and Lennox Berkeley) and garnering consistent critical acclaim.
Vivaldi's sacred music is not so famous as that of his contemporaries Bach and Handel, so this is a bargain opportunity to catch up. You might think Vivaldi's playful, virtuoso Italianate character and Catholic context would produce radically different music, but in George Guest's urgent readings, the mixture of restrainedly exultant choruses and austerely beautiful arias are near-identical to Bach.
The masses of Joseph Haydn have received a great deal of attention over the years, including some intriguing embellishments by students of the composer. This recording aims to get back to some of the Haydn's original vision.
For instance, 'Missa in angustiis,' also known as the "Nelson Mass" because it's debut coincided with the Admiral's great victory over the French, was written for a simple orchestra featuring bassoons (doubling the bass line), trumpets, timpani, solo organ and strings–as appear on this recording. It wasn't until years later that pupils added independent bassoon parts, as well as horns and wind instruments. Strikingly different from many other recordings, adherence to the original orchestration is definitely a point in favor of this collection.
Al Jarreau and George Duke were friends long before they became household names. They began playing together in the mid-1960's in San Francisco as Al Jarreau and the George Duke Trio. The successes of these performances are what helped to launch both their careers. George's tragic passing in August, 2013, inspired Al to record this loving tribute to his longtime friend. With the exception of the fitting title track composed by Jarreau, all the tunes were written by George. Guest artists/collaborators include Gerald Albright, Stanley Clarke, Dr. John, Lalah Hathaway, Boney James, Marcus Miller, Jeffrey Osborne, Kelly Price, Dianne Reeves and Patrice Rushen. There's even a song with George Duke playing on it!