Musical Suggestions Pre-Romantic

A true Renaissance Gem

This is one of the seminal pieces of English musical literature, the 40 part motet 10 minutes in length often nicknamed the Monster Madrigal due to the size of it's score I was involved in a perfromace of it in the late 1990s in Colchester with Colchester Bach Choir as a countertenor one of the two things I did with them. What it evokes in me is a very real ever present and living sense of God as a deity in a way we can't comprehend in modern life. This piece is totally unique no one ever wrote anything as complex before it or after it in this style. It deserves it's place in history. Here it is performed by Oxford Uni's Tallis Scholars.

Sentimental Anthem

I love this piece too! It's a big influence on the first movement of Brahms Requiem years later. Blessed are the Dead.

My Favourite Duet

My favourite duet of all time is Pur ti Miro from the Lamentations of Poppea by Claudio Monteverdi the founder of baroque music and opera. It is performed by Robin Blaze on the countertenor and Elin Manahan Thomas on the soprano. Makes me cry every time, so simple and yet so beautiful. One of the most original composers of all time, he was voted the 10th most influential. He was the court composer to in Mantua just outside Venice. Monteverdi was friends with the famous architect Palladio who invented the famous Palladian mansion style in England researched and bought into England by Inigo Jones. His most famous work nearby to Mantua was the Villa Rotunda.

Early Baroque Motet

This is a great recording I just love this as a performance and a miracle of audio engineering and miking. It's a piece by Claudio Monteverdi called Beatus Vir a motet or church anthem in Latin, I performed at school. You can here the gloria at the end. It's just such a wonderful timbre in this performance that really speaks up for French Early Music Practice. It's conducted by Lionel Maunier.

My Favourite Chorale

The final chorale from the St John Passion is particularly heartfelt and tinged with a personal sense of bereavement for a loved one in my opinion. He did lose family members like me.


My translation of the text


Ah! Lord, let thy loving angel leave my soul at your last hour and be carried into Abraham's arms, who's body, hardly lies soft in his bed chamber without controversy or blushes. Rest until judgement day! Upon whence, I shall wake from the dead and mine eyes shall see you and meet you in all joy, oh God's son! My holy one and most merciful throne. Hear me, dear Jesus Christ, just hear me; I will cherish you forever!

Bach's Italian Concerto

BWV 971 is best played by Sir Andras Schiff at the Leipzig Bach Festival 2010. The effervescent ever creative Schiff really impresses here. It's one of his best ever performances and totally different to the way he plays Beethoven. Is it me or does he play it slightly swung in an eclectic reference to the Jazz Performance of it on the famous Album by Jaques Lousier in the 1960s Jaques Lousier plays Bach. I just love this it's so expressive a gleaming multi-facetted gem I see something different in every time I hear it.

Partita in D by JS Bach

A cello suite played by Annabel Hauk

Best Violin Recording

Despite being a massive Benedetti fan I feel the best ever recording on a violin is this Gigue from Bach's BWV 1004 partita that precedes the famous 13 minute Bach Chaconne widely regarded as the best ever piece for solo violin. Nigel Kennedy is said to have played this every day before breakfast it was his party piece. It's phenomenal this performance every time I hear it I visualise his Polish wife dancing before his eyes. It's so detail a real tear-jerker.

My favourtie Partita

My favourite playing of the whole Partita or Violin Suite BWV 1004 is by James Ehnes including the Chaconne which I've heard many violinists play. The reasoning behind that is I think the Chaconne speaks for itself and needs to played less detail and more purity and clarity of purpose.

Dona Nobis Pacem

Give Us Peace the final movement of Bach's B Minor Mass performed by von Veldhofen and the Netherlands Bach Society. one of the finest performances of the whole thing but it's nearly 2 hours long.

Coffee As an Aphrodisiac

Coffee was considered a rich aphrodisiac in Bach's day and a luxury. Daughter Lisa spent most of her day trying to woo men in the coffee house but she never had the confidence to ask them. Step in big daddy Bach to write her a piece to tell her to do just that! This is the sexiest performance I've ever seen of it again by Netherlands Bach Society. Sadly, it's his only piece of opera Bach's Coffee Cantata. What a waste of talent he was the best opera composer ever as well in principle.

True Love in a Concerto

True love for the a girlfriend Mozart was denied. It's so beautiful this it full of joy and bitter sweet sentiment the first movement. It's my favourite part of it but the melody in the second movement is one of his most famous appearing in the film Amadeus.

Twinkle Variations

Rarer than some of his other pieces Mozart's Twinkle Variations are really interesting to me as a composer Ingrid Haebler plays theme here.

Swiss Cum Sancto Spiritu

An immaculately Swiss performance of one of his best loved choruses.

Can't Beat this for Beauty

Well done Nicola Benedetti for making it on my hit list! wonderfully sentimental and sensual performance with Gruynuk what a duet between them! Mozart's Sonata Nr.21 for Violin

Czerny's Gallop

I came across this piece not long ago. I'm familiar with Czerny as a brilliant piano teacher that writes excellent music to teach technique with beautiful wit and twists to catch you out, but this is a showier version of his methodological pieces and I like it for sheer fizz and panache.

One of Lisitsa's Finest

Piano Sonata Hob.52 Nr.62

Favourite String Quartet

My favourite String Quartet is the Emperor Quartet by Haydn written for the Austrian monarch and originally adapted as the Austrian national Anthem the second movement is now the Jewish country dance from which the German National Anthem is derived, but the rest of it is fantastic too. Enjoy!