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The Classics - A Baroque Festival / Parrott, Et Al


Release Date: 07/17/2007 
Label:  Virgin Classics   Catalog #: 91340   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johann PachelbelGeorge Frideric HandelJohann Sebastian BachHenry Purcell
Performer:  Alison BuryJohn HollowayElizabeth WallfischMark Caudle,   ... 
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner PlayersTaverner Consort
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 0 Mins. 

CD not available: This title is currently only available as an MP3 download.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

A good mix of favourite pieces and some which deserve to be better known all in performances of consistently high quality

Handel’s Queen of Sheba makes a dazzling sprint start of an entrance to begin this cornucopia of baroque goodies first released in 1988. It’s all scintillating strings and gleeful oboe duet. The effect is one of total exuberance and vivacity. But the next track finds this CD springing a different surprise. Concerto 6 may be familiar from the opus 4 set for organ, but here’s the original version for harp, more delicate and suited to its backing of recorders and muted strings. Andrew Lawrence-King is the soloist who for me finds more sweetness and relaxation in this role than the 1983 recording by
Read more Ursula Holliger with The English Concert/Trevor Pinnock (Archiv 469 358-2). This latter characteristic is confirmed by Parrott’s overall timing of 15:50 against Pinnock’s 13:11 and the general effect thereby is both intimate and luxurious. Lawrence-King adds a modicum of ornamentation in the repeats. The opening is light and glistening, the G minor slow movement suitably thoughtful, while the finale’s emphasis is squarely on the latter element of Allegro moderato.

Purcell’s ‘Three Parts upon a Ground’, a hybrid between fantasia and chaconne, sports a ground bass which appears 28 times with a 3-part canon displayed above it, clever stuff technically but also enjoyable to hear. In this performance, at once meticulous and full of life, you appreciate the variety Purcell finds. It begins in mellow fashion with smooth imitation between the 3 violins but by the eighth ground (tr. 5 1:15) there are flurries of semiquavers let loose. The following calm brings the ground alone (1:36) and then gentle application as the three parts re-establish themselves from 1:44. By the eighteenth appearance of the ground (3:02) it’s in the three violins parts just offset by a little activity in the bass. The twentieth ground (3:23) is a more active phase in the violins with dotted rhythms leading to shimmering semiquaver descents in the twenty third (3:55). The final ground appearance (4:47), marked ‘Drag’ is suddenly a brief reflection of sombre thanksgiving for all the previous riches.

I compared the 2005 Ricercar Consort/Philippe Pierlot recording (Mirare MIR 012). This is slightly faster, 4:43 against Parrott’s 5:06 and freer flowing, with more of an improvisatory feel. The rhythms are spikier and the whole stylish enough but never relaxes. Parrott’s more formal approach incorporates clearer display of melody and structure, more breadth of phrasing and space to reflect but also makes the faster passages distinctive enough yet rather more gracious than Pierlot. I make this comparison simply to clarify the quality of this Virgin CD. With a collection like this you’re likely to choose it or not on the basis of your liking for its mix of items.

Parrott’s Suite from Purcell’s theatre music begins with the Trumpet Symphony in Act 3 Scene 2 of The Indian Queen, not as the booklet note states the one borrowed from Come ye sons of art, which is Act 2 Scene 2, but it’s a sunny performance, the trumpet stylishly blending with the sheen of the period instrument strings before a luxuriantly savoured slow coda (tr. 6 1:58) for strings alone. Next is the rondo from Abdelazer made famous in Britten’s Young person’s guide to the orchestra, neatly phrased with the inner parts distinct and subtle dynamic shading in the episodes. Then the chaconne from The Gordian knot untied seems succinctly to sum up a sensitive appreciation of life in both a shining and soulful manner. Finally trumpet and drums as well present the Second Act Tune of The Indian Queen, festive indeed, with a Dance also in C major interpolated (tr. 9 0:36). This has a slightly lighter style and the 1994 Purcell Society edition suggests the Dance is by Purcell’s brother Daniel.

Pachelbel’s Canon is his best known work and attractive in its short, straightforward ground bass, gradual increase of the violin parts to three and more flowing rhythm, melody and imitation as it progresses. Parrott’s performance combines elegance and a sense of flowering forth, lightly applied yet with a merrily dancing character. This chimes in well with the following Gigue, which has the jollity to which the Canon aspires, because its briefer point of imitation allows greater freedom. And it’s good to have the Gigue, because that makes two works by Pachelbel you now know. Harpsichord continuo is appropriately used for these blithe pieces though the booklet confusingly credits Andrew Parrott playing the organ, as he does in the Purcell ‘Three Parts upon a Ground’.

This CD closes with a sequence of bite size Bach. To start, the Sinfonia of Cantata 29, in which Bach’s third Partita for solo violin is turned into an organ concertante and robustly garnished with oboes, trumpets, drums and strings’ accompaniment. It’s a formidable solo, negotiated with considerable aplomb by John Toll at a fair lick, 3:36 against the 3:43 of Arthur Grumiaux’s 1960 recording of the original (Philips 464 673-2). But the orchestration rather warms and civilizes it. The agony and ecstasy don’t show to such awesome effect as when the soloist is out there on his own.

A very different kind of solo comes next, however, a tender oboe one in the Sinfonia of Cantata 156, here played as a chaste song in contrite manner by David Reichenberg. It’s a pure, largely unadorned focus on the melody, a refreshing contrast to the same piece as the slow movement of Keyboard Concerto 5 where the opportunity for ornamentation tends to be enthusiastically taken up these days.

The Sonata which opens Cantata 31 has great ceremonial weight at the start and end with lots of oboe, trumpet and drum sonorities. In between Parrott keeps things more transparently bubbling and exuberant to honour the intricate contrapuntal texture and clarify the imitation between the instruments, for instance the first trumpet descant figure (tr. 14 0:16) echoed in turn by first and second violins. By contrast serenity is the abiding impression obtained from the opening of Part 2 of the Christmas Oratorio, Bach’s Pastoral Symphony. Parrott’s fine blend of flutes and violins creates a smooth expanse and ethereal aura but this alternates with the more pungent, rustic yet still warm, sound of period oboes which bring earthiness and a feel of animal presence to the landscape.

A comparable but distinctively different contrast of textures is heard in the Sonatina which opens the funeral Cantata 106, the ‘Actus tragicus’. Two bass viols and continuo create an atmosphere of dignity and warmth of remembrance over which two recorders provide a decorous lament invaded with glints of poignancy because of the leaps in the melody.

Voices now make a sole appearance on this CD for the chorale from Cantata 147, in English known as ‘Jesu, joy of man’s desiring’, one voice to a part resulting in clarity of texture and balance with oboes and strings’ accompaniment. Parrott makes it go with more of a swing than usual, only calming a touch at the end, yet the celebratory manner is appropriate to the text and the chorale itself glows with inner conviction.

In keeping with the opening, Parrott closes the CD with a flourish, in this case with Cantata 174’s Sinfonia. This is a re-run of the first movement of Brandenburg Concerto 3 with extras in the form of independent descant parts for 2 hunting horns plus 2 oboes and a tenor oboe brought in to reinforce the strings and vary the timbre. In his recording published in 1987 Nikolaus Harnoncourt argues this expansion should result in a slower tempo. His timing is 6:10 (Teldec 4509-91763-2). Parrott here would appear not to agree, as his timing of 5:45 is the same as The English Concert/Trevor Pinnock 1982 recording of the strings only original (Archiv 471 720-2). I’m not convinced the Sinfonia sounds more effective slower: though the elements are more distinct the exoticism seems somewhat tamed. Parrott’s strings are lighter in articulation than Harnoncourt’s and the horns fit in cheerily enough, as does the oboes underpinning which nevertheless adds to the tension as the imitative figurations descend to the cellos (from tr. 18 4:41). It’s all very jolly, rather like a fantasy marriage between Brandenburg Concerto 3 and Brandenburg Concerto 1.

As with all excerpts that make their mark, you’d like to hear more of the works from which they have been wrested. Personally I feel the selection here is a good mix of favourite pieces and some which deserve to be better known all in performances of consistently high quality.

-- Michael Greenhalgh, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1. Canon and Gigue for 3 Violins and Basso Continuo in D major by Johann Pachelbel
Performer:  Alison Bury (Violin), John Holloway (Violin), Elizabeth Wallfisch (Violin),
Mark Caudle (Bass Viola da gamba), Andrew Parrott (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
Date of Recording: 1987 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 1, London 
Length: 5 Minutes 0 Secs. 
2. Solomon, HWV 67: Arrival of the Queen of Sheba by George Frideric Handel
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1749; London, England 
Date of Recording: 1987 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 1, London 
Length: 2 Minutes 46 Secs. 
3. Concerto for Harp in B flat major, Op. 4 no 6/HWV 294 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Andrew Lawrence-King (Harp)
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1736; London, England 
Date of Recording: 1987 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 1, London 
Length: 13 Minutes 54 Secs. 
4. Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147: Jesu bleibet meine Freude "Jesu, joy of man's desiring" by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort,  Taverner Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1723; Leipzig, Germany 
Date of Recording: 1987 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 1, London 
Length: 2 Minutes 16 Secs. 
5. Wir danken dir, Gott, BWV 29: no 1, Sinfonia in D major by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  John Toll (Organ)
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1731; Leipzig, Germany 
Date of Recording: 1987 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 1, London 
Length: 3 Minutes 39 Secs. 
6. Ich steh' mit einem Fuss im Grabe, BWV 156: Sinfonia/Arioso by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  David Reichenberg (Oboe)
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1729; Leipzig, Germany 
Date of Recording: 1987 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 1, London 
Length: 2 Minutes 24 Secs. 
7. Der Himmel lacht! die Erde jubilieret, BWV 31: no 1, Sonata in C major by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1715; Cöthen, Germany 
Date of Recording: 1987 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 1, London 
Length: 2 Minutes 24 Secs. 
8. Ich liebe den Höchsten von ganzem Gemüte, BWV 174: Sinfonia in G major by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1729; Leipzig, Germany 
Date of Recording: 1987 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 1, London 
Length: 5 Minutes 43 Secs. 
9. Three on a Ground by Henry Purcell
Performer:  John Holloway (Violin), Elizabeth Wallfisch (Violin), Andrew Parrott (Organ),
Alison Bury (Violin), Jakob Lindberg (Archlute)
Period: Baroque 
Written: England 
Date of Recording: 1987 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 1, London 
Length: 5 Minutes 6 Secs. 
10. Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: no 10, Sinfonia in G major by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1734-1735; Leipzig, Germany 
Date of Recording: 1987 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 1, London 
Length: 6 Minutes 2 Secs. 
11. Indian Queen, Z 630: Act 3 Trumpet Overture by Henry Purcell
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1695; England 
Date of Recording: 1987 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 1, London 
Length: 2 Minutes 47 Secs. 
12. Abdelazer, Z 570 "Moor's Revenge": Rondeau by Henry Purcell
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1695; England 
Date of Recording: 1987 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 1, London 
Length: 1 Minutes 34 Secs. 
13. Gordian Knot Unty'd, Z 597: Chaconne by Henry Purcell
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1691; England 
Date of Recording: 1987 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 1, London 
Length: 1 Minutes 49 Secs. 
14. Indian Queen, Z 630: Symphony by Henry Purcell
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1695; England 
Date of Recording: 1987 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 1, London 
Length: 1 Minutes 44 Secs. 
15. Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste, BWV 106 "Actus tragicus": no 1, Sonatina in E flat minor by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jennifer Ward-Clarke (Bass Violin), Richard Campbell (Bass Viola da gamba), Mark Caudle (Bass Viola da gamba),
Catherine Latham (Recorder), Anneke Boeke (Recorder), John Toll (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1708; Mühlhausen, Germany 
Date of Recording: 1987 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 1, London 
Length: 2 Minutes 44 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Solomon HWV67: Sinfonia: Act 3, The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba
Harp Concerto in B flat major Op. 4 No. 6: I. Andante - Allegro
Harp Concerto in B flat major Op. 4 No. 6: II. Larghetto
Harp Concerto in B flat major Op. 4 No. 6: III. Allegro moderato
Three parts upon a Ground Z731
A Suite of Theatre Music: I. Trumpet Overture (The Indian Queen Z.630 No. 16)
A Suite of Theatre Music: II. Rondeau (Abdelazer, or The Moor's Revenge Z.570 No. 2)
A Suite of Theatre Music: III. Chaconne (The Gordian Knot Unty'd Z.597 No. 6)
A Suite of Theatre Music: IV. Symphony & Dance (The Indian Queen Z.630 Nos. 9-11)
Canon and Gigue in D: Canon
Canon and Gigue in D: Gigue
Cantata No. 29, 'Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir' BWV29: Sinfonia
Cantata No. 156, 'Ich steh mit einem Fuss im Grabe' BWV156: Sinfonia
Cantata No. 31, 'Der Himmel lacht! die Erde jubilliert' BWV31: Sonata
Christmas Oratorio BWV248: Sinfonia
Cantata No. 106, 'Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit' BWV106: Sonatina
Cantata No. 147, 'Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben' BWV147: Choral: Jesu bleibet meine Freude (Jesu, joy of man's desiring)
Cantata No. 174, 'Ich liebe den Höchsten von ganzem Gemüte' BWV174: Sinfonia Concerto

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