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…

William Byrd (±1539-1623): O gloriosa Domina

O Gloriosa Domina is the second half of the hymn Quem terra, pontus, aethera composed by Venantius Fortunatus (530-609), Bishop of Poitiers. Both were sung during the Little Office of The Virgin which, as I wrote on May 16th, 2016 in my posting on Quem terra, pontus, aethera remained wildly popular with Catholics during Byrd’s…

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…

Arvo Pärt (b1935): Spiegel im Spiegel

I suppose that outside of his choral music Spiegel im Spiegel (Mirror in the Mirror) must be Pärt’s most famous piece of music. He wrote it in 1978 shortly before he left Estonia for Berlin scoring it originally for violin and piano (it’s subsequently been performed in versions including inter alia clarinet, flute, horn, viola,…

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827): Variations in E flat major on ‘Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen’ from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte WoO46

I was listening to Die Zauberflöte over the weekend and these charming variations sprang to mind. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy them. They’re Beethoven’s third set of variations for cello and piano and are based upon Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen, Pamina and Papageno’s duet in praise of love from The Magic Flute, it…