There are many apocryphal stories in the classical-music world, but the one in which Frederick the Great challenged Bach to improvise a six-part fugue on a theme of the king's own invention is true, and The Musical Offering was, after a period of further reflection, the result. As with all the works of Bach's later years, the work is both great art and a "teaching piece," which shows everything that he thought could be done with the king's theme. The Trio Sonata based on the theme is the only major piece of chamber music from Bach's last decades in Leipzig, and that makes the work and essential cornerstone of any Bach collection. This performance, led by Neville Marriner, is both polished and lively, and very well recorded. At a "twofer" price, coupled with The Art of Fugue, it's the preferred version of the work on modern instruments.
An acclaimed Italian guitar virtuoso and composer, Mauro Giuliani, along with Fernando Sor, was one of the last great classical proponents of his instrument until its revival in the early twentieth century. He studied counterpoint and the cello, but on the six-string guitar he was entirely self-taught, and that became his principal instrument early on. Italy abounded with fine guitarists at the beginning of the nineteenth century (Carulli remains the most familiar today), but few of them could make a living because of the public's preoccupation with opera. So Giuliani embarked on a successful tour of Europe when he was 19, and in 1806 he settled in Vienna, where he entered the musical circle of Diabelli, Moscheles, and Hummel. He solidified his reputation with the 1808 premiere of his Guitar Concerto in A major, Op. 30, and was soon heralded as the greatest living guitar virtuoso. Even Beethoven noticed Giuliani, and wrote of his admiration for him. Perhaps to return the favor, Giuliani played cello in the 1813 premiere of Beethoven's Symphony No. 7.
Set in classical antiquily, Mozart’s "Il re pastore" tells of the thwarted love of Aminta (the innocent ‘shepherd king’ of the title) for the well-born Elisa, and that of the nobleman Agenore for the deposed tyrant’s daughter Tamiri. No less a figure than Alexander the Great resolves these conflicts of private passion and public status. First performed in Salzburg in 1775, Sir Neville Marriner conducts a top international cast in this 1989 production of the opera from Salzburg’s Landestheater.
This 28 CD box set includes the Argo jewels from Marriner’s early recording days with the chamber orchestra he founded in 1958, The Academy of St Martin in the Fields. The edition spans the years 1964-1981, and includes a bonus CD of the first recordings from 1961.The collection concentrates on the Argo years, when the pattern for the Academy’s success was set. Winning performances by soloists such as Alan Loveday and Iona Brown — who in 1974 became Marriner’s successor in directing from the violin – were a key part of the fabric of the Academy’s unique sound.
Mozart Double Piano Concertos is Arthur and Lucas Jussen’s first orchestral recording, featuring two of the most famous works composed for two pianos. Ever since they performed for the Dutch queen in 2005 at the ages of just 12 and 8 years old and becoming the first Dutch artists to sign with the historic Yellow Label, Deutsche Grammophon, the Jussen brothers are regarded as something of Dutch national treasures.
There are many anthologies of late nineteenth and early twentieth century English music available but this collection from Decca is one of the finest. Neville Marriner directs the Academy of St Martins-in-the-Fields in a programme of popular favourites and lesser known works collected from a number of LP's recorded between 1968 and 1981. The late analogue Decca sound is superb and the orchestra and conductor are totally in tune with the music.
Rivaled only by Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Neville Marriner was one of the most important of the early figures who spearheaded the reawakening of modern interest in Baroque and early Classical music. In the 1950s, he founded Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, the first British early music ensemble to find a large international audience. Marriner has since become one of the most popular conductors in the world, acclaimed for his interpretations of composers from Bach to Britten.