Years before J.S. Bach paved the way toward what is now largely considered the height of the German Baroque, Dietrich Buxtehude was hard at work in northern Germany on his own individual union of the Italian and French Baroque styles. His Op. 1 is a sumptuous, dynamic set of seven sonatas scored for violin, gamba, and continuo (played here by cello and harpsichord). Unlike composers both before and after him, Buxtehude was far from formulaic when it came to the organization of his sonatas, each one having its own unique combination and sequence of movements.
The concerto grosso form was popularized by Corelli, and Locatelli’s Op 1 is a marvellous example of the genre: its solid craftsmanship, imaginative textures and exciting virtuosity bringing it into the top rank. These works are ravishingly performed here by The Raglan Baroque Players, Nicholas Kraemer and soloist Elizabeth Wallfisch.
Staged and directed by Richard Wagner's grandson Wolfgang at the Bayreuther Festspiele in 1984, this production of Wagner's only comedy dispenses with the common cliches to reveal the humanity of each character. Here, Beckmesser is no longer a foolish caricature but a cultivated intellectual; Stolzing emerges as a thoughtful individual rather than aggressive aristocret; and Hans Sachs sheds his solemn patriarchal veneer to become a likeable middle-aged man. “Hermann Prey´s interpretation of Beckmesser as a cultivated intellectual is a triumph of dramatic and vocal artistry: a stunning performance . . . Brilliant . . . Bernd Weikl as Sachs – an almost unique combination of musical refinement and expressive power.” (Abendzeitung, Munich)
Wolfgang Wagner’s arrestingly beautiful production, filmed live at Bayreuth in 1981 and directed by Brian Large, features a stellar cast led by Eva Randova, Bernd Weikl and Siegfried Jerusalem. “A production and performance that showed the festival at its finest… Wolfgang Wagner’s Bayreuth production of his grandfather’s “farewell to the world” has “an unusual beauty and logic of its own… There is an air of magic and mystery about the staging… The performance was excellent… Horst Stein [conducted] a beautifully proportioned Parsifal.” (The New York Times)