Feature: Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750): Sonatas for Viola da gamba and Harpsichord BWV 1027 – 1029

Despite the fact that they’re numbered consecutively Bach’s three Sonatas for Viola da gamba and Harpsichord BWV 1027 – 1029 weren’t written as a set. In fact in some ways they’re something of a mystery indeed until recently we really knew pretty much nothing about either the circumstances or the date of their composition and…

Heinrich Schütz (1585–1672): In lectulo per noctes

From 1609 to 1613 Schütz lived in Venice where he became the pupil of Giovanni Gabrieli who he admired all his life, for both personal and musical reasons. Although his great admiration of Gabrieli in particular and the Italian school of composition in general never faded Schütz  adopted their techniques and methods only when it…

John Blow (1649 – 1708): Venus and Adonis

Technically John Blow’s Venus and Adonis is a masque1 and indeed he himself described it as such. I suspect that he called it a masque simply because masques were a known quantity and operas were not. Leaving aside questions of nomenclature you can make a good case that with Venus and Adonis  Blow took the…

Benedetto Marcello (1686–1739): Dulcis Jesu Mater cara

Bendetto Marcello’s reputation has been eclipsed by that of Vivaldi and the other professional musicians of his era his music is now largely forgotten. Its obscurity is our loss for Marcello’s music was greatly admired and rightly so by Bach, Telemann, Locatelli, Avison and Goethe, and in later times Cherubini, Rossini and Verdi. The ‘Nobile…

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): Dresden Sonatas

Whenever I stop to think about it I’m always amazed that despite the fact that he was so influential particularly regarding the concerto form’s development that contemporary string musicians paid so little heed to him. There’s no  "school of Vivaldi" consisting of violinists or players of other stringed instruments. The only exception to this rule…

Feature: Alessandro Grandi (±1586 – 1630): Salve Regina

This wonderful setting of the Salve is a particularly fine example of what a talented composer does when confronted with artistic restrictions. Grandi was one of those composers who flourished in Venice during Monteverdi’s time and in his shadow. He’d held posts as a maestro di capella in Ferrara, and had previously sung and studied…