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Last Active 01-12-22 8:49 am
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5.0 classic
Antonio Vivaldi The Four Seasons
Equal parts melodic, emotional, and virtuosic - this collection of concertos may not have been Vivaldi's most famous work in his life, but it certainly was what put him back on the map for listeners of the 20th century. Accompanied with texts that described individual scenes in the individual seasons, it's a (perhaps-disconnected, nevertheless-interesting) cool early example of program, narrative-driven music. This narrative inspires Vivaldi to pull out some of his most dynamic and harmonically-diverse pieces ever, which is what helps make it stand out from the other string pieces in his catalog. The opening movement of "Spring" is among the most universally-recognized classical melodies at this point, but it is best heard in-context, when it contrasts with the stormier parts of this collection. All in all, perhaps as close to a Bach-like compositional approach as the Italian redhead would ever reach.
Bernart de Ventadorn Can vei la lauzeta mover
Claudio Monteverdi L'incoronazione di Poppea
There are some questions about whether this, Monteverdi's last opera (and last work written during his lifetime), was entirely written by him. Whether or not it was, there's no doubt that it advances the operatic form a considerable distance compared to where it was at the time of L'Orfeo. 28 different vocal parts are featured here, and the radical textual choice (a scandalous love affair that has caused ethical debates to this day) shows how opera was already expanding from the precedents that its theatrical predecessors, the Greek dramatists, had set millennia previously. Quite simply, one of the most daring pieces of music composed to this point, directing the world to the 18th century over 50 years before it had even started.
George Frideric Handel Messiah, HWV 56
In retrospect, it would be hard for England's (German-imported) greatest composer of oratorios to botch this, an oratorio about the death and rebirth of Jesus. But as unsurprising as it is that this is great, it's worth acknowledging just *how* great it is - dramatic music that doesn't quite reach the darkness of Bach's Passions, for instance, but presents itself as full of life instead. The forthcoming resurrection is but a foregone conclusion here, which makes this story feel more complete than other takes. You get the resolution of the Christ story without having to sit in the dark stuff, and sometimes, particularly around a certain December holiday, that's what people are looking for.
Guillaume Dufay Nuper rosarum flores
Hildegard von Bingen Ordo Virtutum
Johann Sebastian Bach The Well-Tempered Clavier I BWV 846-869
What is one to say about this, the most influential collection of keyboard pieces ever written? Perhaps nothing more should be said, except that the best testament you could give is how it is equal parts an instructional work and a proving ground - even young Mozart and Beethoven were cutting their teeth on these pieces, and for as rudimentary as they may seem at times, how telling it is that they were so beloved as to stand the test of time and even be performed in concert centuries later. Book I has a stronger set of songs than the collection to come, certainly a product of how insanely productive Bach was at this stage of his career.
Johann Sebastian Bach Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565
How something so wildly experimental and with so much dissonance could have been composed in the first decade of the 1700s is beyond what I can properly express. The intro to the toccata alone needs no introduction or further clarification - you've heard it, you've seen it used in every scary movie scene imaginable, you've already formulated thoughts on it. The fugue is excellent in its own right, too. The piece stands out from its contemporaries so wildly that it seems almost too good to be true - was the toccata simply better preserved or written down in more detail than others of the era, or was it simply that much more impactful? Impossible to really say, but it's a classic for a reason.
Johann Sebastian Bach Goldberg Variations, BWV 988
Who would have thought that a collection of keyboard exercises could be this entertaining and influential? Mostly known as a strange curio in the Bach oeuvre until the Glenn Gould recording from 1955 became hugely popular, this is actually a fairly demanding collection of pieces, demanding some serious hand independence skills and occasionally requiring hand-crossing that brings to mind the writing of Scarlatti. The entire work is very Italian in how it approaches phrasing, actually, showing both Bach's ear for trends as well as how much the Scarlattis and Vivaldis of the world were impacting the "scene", if you will.
Johann Sebastian Bach Matthäus-Passion, BWV 244
Many call this Bach's greatest work, and it's easy to see why. The piece is an even heavier listen than the St. John Passion, packing a potent emotional wallop despite being even more subdued. Most would say, and I'd agree, that the best way to experience this work is as a live, staged performance - in many senses, it is an opera by everything but name, yet it never feels overly dramatic in the way operatic works do. The drama feels genuine, as does the emotion.
Josquin Des Prez Missa Pange lingua
Josquin Des Prez Ave Maria... Virgo serena
Probably the most famous singular composition of Josquin's, this piece is credited, at least in part, with revitalizing interest in the motet as a genre during the sixteenth century, after the spread in masses' popularity had eclipsed that of shorter pieces. The melody is piercing in its beauty, all four voices playing off each other in canon/canon-like interactions. There is no real question of the mood Josquin is trying to convey: it is ethereal in the most magical sense, without any strings attached and yet all the while carrying a depth, a sense of significance in its harmonies that is indescribable. Not much can be said beyond that: it is perhaps the best starting point for anyone interested in Renaissance choral music, and for as expressive as Josquin is known to get in his writing, this work channels a very spiritual set of emotions that even only a select few of Josquin's masses really came close to accomplishing.
Perotin Viderunt Omnes

4.5 superb
Antonio Vivaldi 6 Cello Sonatas
Sort of a forgotten classic, containing some of Vivaldi's darkest works. Written one year before the composer's death, it certainly has a foreboding air to it at times. Recommended those wishing for a different side of late-period Italian Baroque.
Antonio Vivaldi L'estro armonico, Op.3
This collection of 12 violin concertos was described by one scholar as the most important instrumental work of the entire eighteenth century. It's hard to disagree, even if it may not be Vivaldi's creative high point. The melodies, as is typical with his work, fly off the page here - no. 5 was the most popular of the era for its speedy virtuosity, no. 6 the most popular today due to its focus on high-register melodies.
Antonio Vivaldi Il cimento dell'armonia e dell'inventione, Op.8
The first four concertos are the highlights here (commonly recorded individually as "The Four Seasons" - you may have heard of them), but even the less famous material has a sense of dynamism even more prevalent than in any other Vivaldi collection. Fiery, passionate, and as prototypically baroque as you can get.
Arcangelo Corelli 12 Concerti Grossi, Op.6
The G minor "Christmas" concerto is the highlight here, as most anyone who knows Corelli's works will tell you, but the rest of it makes substantial and excellent use of the full string ensemble, while the music itself contains a sense of direction that most composed works of the day did not possess.
Carlo Gesualdo Sesto libro di madrigali
Gesualdo's works are interesting in that they raised eyebrows across the scene when they were first published, were promptly forgotten about after his death, then revived over 300 years later by the serialists (Schoenberg and Stravinsky, particularly). Even if these madrigals can't be considered "atonal" per se, they certainly stretch the boundaries of tonality in a manner not seen before and very infrequently seen afterwards until the 20th century. Listen to "Moro, lasso, al mio duolo" (English: "I die, alas, in my suffering") for the end-stage Renaissance version of proto-Schoenberg.
Claudio Monteverdi Vespro della Beata Vergine
It's still unclear if this work was intended for continuous performance or if the various movements are merely individual pieces considered suitable for Vespers celebrations. Regardless, when taken as a collective, this is one of the most progressive works of the Western classical canon to date, displaying Monteverdi's compositional proficiency over a wide variety of genres and instrumental combos. A grab bag of the best elements from the late Renaissance and early Baroque, in other words.
Dietrich Buxtehude Prelude in G minor BuxWV 149
A terrific two-hand showcase, perhaps Buxtehude's best in that vein. It's easy to hear the influence on later German composers (read as: Bach) in works like this.
George Frideric Handel Wassermusik, Suite nr. 1 in F-dur, HWV 348
Movement III may be the highlight of the entire Wassermusik series, a standalone piece in its own right with some bright, prominent French horns that take center stage throughout, and deservedly so. Neither the second nor third suites are quite on par with this first one, but the entire work as a collective is excellent all the same.
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina Missa Papae Marcelli
Guillaume De Machaut Douce Dame Jolie
Easily the most famous of Machaut's songs, "Douce Dame Jolie" (English: "sweet, lovely
lady") is a prime example of a virelai - one of the three formes fixes that dominated
French poetry/music in the fourteenth century. Machaut's usage of "courtly love" imagery is
strong here, paired with a beautiful minor-key melody. Pinpointing the performance practices
of this music is difficult, but given the piece's secular roots, we can assume that the
singer (or singers, as the case may be) was accompanied by at least one instrument, and
perhaps an entire ensemble of instrumentalists.

Ars Antiqua de Paris (1974): https://open.spotify.com/track/1nnhBhWuPoq9q8Ezt2SM9R?
si=J1DBvET1S8iiRhlREDghew&utm_source=copy-link&dl_branch=1
Heinrich Isaac Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen
One of the most famous melodies of the Renaissance era, "Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen"
(English: "Innsbruck, I must leave thee") was likely an early composition of Heinrich Isaac's and
would go on to inspire the melodies for numerous other works, including sections of Bach's St.
Matthew Passion. Lyrically, it is a mournful tale of a wayward traveller, bidding farewell to the
town that he loves like a husband would his wife.

Amarcord (2006): https://open.spotify.com/track/7cgi6lRggiLAAzsuJOBBeW?si=14432aca957b4e9c
Henry Purcell Dido and Aeneas, Z.626
A vibrant English opera - well, mini-opera, as there is much less musical material despite sticking to a three-act structure. Purcell's light burnt brightly, if briefly (dying at the young age of 36), and this is a high-point of his career indubitably.
Henry Purcell Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary, Z.860
Beautiful processional music for the funeral of Queen Mary, and later used for Purcell's own funeral just some months later.
Jean Richafort Requiem in memoriam Josquin des Prez
The fact that Jean Richafort's most famous work is a tribute to Josquin des Prez is unsurprising; Richafort studied under Josquin for some time, and a lot of his style is heavily indebted to stylistic changes Josquin helped spearhead. But for being relatively forgotten as a composer since his day, Richafort's Requiem mass is an emotional punch in the gut unlike most other pieces you will hear from that era. The piece uses a lot of grand dynamic changes in its contrapuntal settings, as if to imitate the sound of a sea of individuals sobbing, lamenting the loss of a massively significant musical figure. The lamentations are all very individualized, however, as the piece uses very little in the way of homophony in favor of each voice getting its own melodic figures. Just outstanding.
Jean-Baptiste Lully Armide
Truly an excellent opera from Lully, including a superb soprano part in that of the titular character. Per Lully's standard, heavy emphasis on instrumental interludes that would have included dancing of some kind.
Johann Pachelbel Canon and Gigue in D
It's difficult to call Pachelbel's canon one of the most enduring pieces in classical music's history, because the piece lounged entirely in obscurity until the late 1960s, after which it exploded in popularity. Nevertheless, its simplicity is its virtue, undoubtedly. It builds upon its themes from the ground up, very methodically, and it doesn't waste time getting from place to place, either. A singular piece from Pachelbel both in fame and style, as his keyboard works are much more well-known than his chamber music, generally.
Johann Sebastian Bach Cello Suite No. 1 in G major, BWV 1007
The best-known of Bach's cello suites thanks to its prelude, one of Bach's most enduring melodic works to date. As a whole, the piece is important for shedding light on a stringed instrument not called a violin or a lute, legitimizing the other members of the string family as feature instruments in their own right.
Johann Sebastian Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F major, BWV 1047
A trumpet part for the ages, going up to the instrument's highest register and reaching even further beyond that. While this sort of thing isn't quite a measure of musical *quality* per se, it speaks to its significance that the first movement not made it onto the Voyager Golden Record, but served as its opening track. As Baroque as it gets, and maybe the best moment in the whole collection.
Johann Sebastian Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D major, BWV 1050
The other main standout of the Brandenburg works, as it's the most keyboard-focused of the lot and the harpsichord gets to shine in a properly obligato fashion here.
Johann Sebastian Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B♭ major, BWV 1051
Ending the collection is perhaps the most "complete" concerto of the bunch, typifying the style more than the others which tend to let individual instruments shine through a bit more.
Johann Sebastian Bach The Well-Tempered Clavier II BWV 870-893
All but inseparable from the first book, despite having been written at least 15 years later. The pieces in this book are somewhat less entrenched in the repertoire than those of the first, but they satisfy the same urges, achieve the same goals, and so on.
Johann Sebastian Bach Harpsichord Concerto No. 1, BWV 1052
A contender for Bach's best harpsichord piece, with the first movement driving itself with a powerful melodic motive played jointly (and occasionally sequentially) by harpsichord and strings alike. The second movement is stately, and the third revises ideas from the first which ix mainly why I struggle to put this among the very upper echelon of Bach's works. A step below Bach's very greatest is many steps above most others', however.
Johann Sebastian Bach 6 Violin Sonatas, BWV 1014-1019
A very important collection coming out of a fertile creative period, pivotal mainly for the emergence of the harpsichord as an obligato accompaniment to the violin rather than a basso continuo accompaniment - the distinction is basically that the harpsichord is now elevated to similar prominence to the lead instrument rather than as a strict backing piece. The result is a collection of pieces that work more as duets than solos, which leads to some great interplay.
Johann Sebastian Bach Cello Suite No.2 in D minor, BWV 1008
More aggressive than the first suite - the menuets feature some savage bowing techniques, and in some ways this suite is more attention-grabbing than the first.
Johann Sebastian Bach Johannespassion, BWV 245
The earlier of Bach's two passion settings, this work exists in several different versions, and it is generally considered the more scattered, ill-structured of the two. But the emotions are arguably even more turbulently displayed: the sheer anger from the dissonant opening "Herr" syllables transitioning into the melancholy of the closing movements speaks to Bach's abilities as a text painter.
Johann Sebastian Bach Violin Partita No.2 in D minor, BWV 1004
Seconding what the other person here said - the Chaconne is a masterwork in its own right, and it helps elevate this to be the absolute highlight of the collection. Stunning displays of virtuosity throughout.
Johann Sebastian Bach Toccata and Fugue in F major, BWV 540
Majestic in its way, not as awe-inspiring as *the* Toccata and Fugue, but attention-grabbing in its stateliness all the same. Not altogether that disjointed, either, given that the two sections may have been composed completely separately from one another.
Johann Sebastian Bach Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582
Probably Bach's most famous passacaglia (which is, if you don't know, a set of triple-meter keyboard variations pioneered in Spain and elaborated on by Frescobaldi). As with most variation-based compositions, the piece is a steady build-up, but where this work stands out is in how the variations are deployed, as well as in how Bach drops little nods to German Lutheran hymns in the process (very typical of his writing).
Johann Sebastian Bach Fugue in G minor
A statement piece, coupling one of Bach's most recognizable melodies with an interplay between hands and the minor-key counter-melody that overwhelms you in power and dissonance. Absolutely staggering to think that he was only 22 when he wrote this.
Johann Sebastian Bach Great Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, BWV 542
More classic Bach organ writing, believed to have been inspired by a popular Dutch song and written/improvised for an audition. It serves as a reminder that for as complex and intricate as Bach's organ works could be, many of them were improvisations, which only adds to how far removed Bach's work was from those of his contemporaries.
Johann Sebastian Bach Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 543
The fugue part is an absolutely superb bit of build-up, one of his best.
Johannes Ockeghem Missa prolationum
John Dunstable Quam pulchra es
The most famous piece by John Dunstable, the first English composer of note and the one
whose embodiment of the so-called "English countenance" (that is, heavily using thirds and
sixths in his compositions) kick-started the Burgundian school of thought that ushered in
music's Renaissance. "Quam pulchra es" (English: "how beautiful thou art") is a three-part
motet with lyrics taken from the Bible's Song of Songs, merging the spiritual with the
secular in a gorgeous description of intimacy. One thing worth noting is that despite the
increase in triadic harmonies, the strong resolutions of phrases are still open, "perfect"
fifths or octaves, a sign that tradition has not been totally rejected in this new English
style.

Tonus Peregrinus (2005): https://open.spotify.com/track/06MP4B6xucMF98L716Qaae?
si=cA_ZwhuqRTKAzAEPjjf6VQ&utm_source=copy-link&dl_branch=1
Josquin Des Prez Missa La sol fa re mi
A mass based on wordplay, namely a play on the expression "Lascia fare mi" (English: "let me do it"), which was a common Italian expression at the time. Josquin converts the phrase into a motive based on solfege syllables, and that motive repeats itself over 200 times in various different forms (sometimes as-written, sometimes in retrograde, sometimes both in succession). Very mellow, with a "Credo" movement that uses a lot of minor thirds to create a somber sort of atmosphere.
Josquin Des Prez Missa L'homme armé super voces musicales
Kassiani Hymn to the Fallen Woman
Roland de Lassus Lagrime di San Pietro
20 madrigals + one motet, a collection of madrigali spirituali ("spiritual madrigals") that was the last thing Lassus ever worked on before his death. Knowing this, it would seem to make sense that the work feels like a reflection on his composing up to this point, a summary of his history and stylistic changes. Certainly the crowning achievement of his career, it's a helluva way to close, and also very easy to consume both in parts and on its own.
Roland de Lassus Psalmi Davidis pœnitentiales
A collection of seven motets set to the seven Penitential Psalms of David, the setting of De profundis is easily the most famous piece here, but all of these are fantastic. Very moving polyphony that packs an emotional wallop with its soaring high-register lines, a worthwhile listen either in parts or as a collective.
Thomas Tallis Spem in Alium
Thomas Tallis takes the unwieldy 12-part arrangement of Brumel's Earthquake mass and raises him to a staggering 40 voices - 8 different choirs, each singing 5 distinct parts. It's a remarkable achievement just as much as it is a rather atypical work for Tallis, yet critics both of the time and after the fact have referred to it as among the greatest early English choral works. One would be hard-pressed to disagree with that assessment.
Tomas Luis de Victoria Officium Defunctorum (Requiem)
Written for his recently-deceased patron, the former Holy Roman Empress Maria, this piece is Victoria's high-water mark, the last he wrote during his lifetime and the summation of his style. Emotionally turbulent, the voices weep and wail with their rising and falling dynamics. It's emblematic of Victoria's mysticism as a composer while never feeling too foreign; it is, unquestionably, a work drenched in humanity.
Tomas Luis de Victoria O magnum mysterium
A very warm, beautiful setting of this traditional responsorial chant, this is among Victoria's most famous motets and was used as the basis of a mass composed some 20 years later. The "Alleluia" section at the end is a creative coda to the piece, very staccato and making use of a very nice inner voice suspension on the final chord.
William Byrd Mass for Four Voices
A beautiful and elegant initial entry to Byrd's trilogy of masses, using a mixture of textural effects to make it sound almost chameleonic in its styling.

4.0 excellent
Antoine Brumel Missa Et ecce terrae motus, "The Earthquake"
Most famous of his masses, Antoine Brumel's "Earthquake" mass is written for a staggering 12 voices, which at face value sounds extremely excessive. Maybe so, since it was the perfect time for such things, but the piece avoids being unlistenable because all of the parts work in concert without drawing too much attention to any individual one - one of the most typically "ethereal" works of the era.
Antonio Vivaldi La stravaganza, Op.4
A quirky set of concertos dedicated to one of Vivaldi's old violin students, we're again seeing progression in the technicality of the writing and what the composer is asking of the musicians. Recommended.
Antonio Vivaldi Six Concertos, Op. 11
More of Vivaldi's consistently-interesting string output, this time around less melodically distinct and more texturally unique.
Antonio Vivaldi Twelve Violin Sonatas, Op. 2
A predecessor to Vivaldi's truly great later works - violin + basso continuo accompaniment, per usual, but you can hear his sense of melody coming through early. Highlights are the first three, no. 8 and no. 11.
Arnolt Schlick Salve Regina
Arnolt Schlick was among the first noteworthy composers for keyboard instruments, at least of whose works have survived. His setting of the Salve Regina hymn, among the most popular Renaissance keyboard works, gives a great insight into how different the writing was back in the day; very choral-like, slow-moving contrapuntal lines that frankly are not "virtuosic" in any sense.
Cipriano de Rore Missa Praeter rerum seriem
Another composer more known for madrigals than masses, Cipriano de Rore still allows some of his trademark chromaticism into this work, probably his most famous sacred piece.
Claudio Monteverdi L'Orfeo
Already a widely-known composer of madrigals, Claudio Monteverdi wrote his first opera in 1609, and it is a pivotal one in the early history of the genre. The piece modernized the setting of Peri's Euridice, staying truer to the original story and adding a more diverse array of instrumentation to the proceedings, including brass and winds. Such was the vastness of its popularity that it remains semi-regularly performed up to the present day.
Comtessa de Dia A chantar m'er de so qu'ieu non volria
The troubadour tradition was not an exclusively male one, for there were many female troubadours
(called "trobairitz") that we know of. As far as surviving works are concerned, however, only one
trobairitz song survives: A chantar m'er de so qu'ieu non volria, written by the Comtessa
de Dia (Countess of Die). The Comtessa's biographical story is indeterminate, with even her birth
name being disputed (although Beatritz seems the likeliest answer), but we can suppose that her
status as the member of a wealthy family helped her song outlast any of her contemporaries'. The
song itself speaks from the perspective of a confused lover who has been mistreated by her male
partner, expressing confusion while also asserting herself and warning him "that too much
haughtiness makes many people suffer".

Clemencic Consort (1980): https://open.spotify.com/track/53IDumFHPm0UcQbT1uSc0B?
si=e9e9d7e982fe41ad
Cristobal de Morales Missa pro defunctis
A piece so morose that it moves at a snail's pace, this is probably the most famous work of Spain's original internationally-renowned composer. It demonstrates the homophonic textures that defined late-period Cristobal do much, and performances of it run on the longer wide compared to most pieces of the period, generally in excess of 45 minutes.
Denis Gaultier La Rhetorique des dieux
A collection of lute pieces written by Gaultier, one of the preeminent lute composers of the late seventeenth century. There is a clear maturation in the writing of Gaultier compared to what, say, Dowland was doing some 50 years prior - the melancholic melodies are filled in by more intricate finger-picking patterns.
Dietrich Buxtehude Membra Jesu Nostri, BuxWV 75
An atypical work for the typically keyboard-centric Buxtehude, a relatively important work for being the first Lutheran oratorio, a large-scale sacred work featuring orchestra, choirs and soloists alike. Additionally, it just probably the most musically-interesting oratorio of any faith to have been composed during this time, a testament to Buxtehude and his affinity for voice leading/arranging.
Dietrich Buxtehude Magnificat Primi Toni BuxWV 203
A unique organ piece for Buxtehude in that it is based around sacred texts and thus is structured more like a chorale than anything else.
Domenico Scarlatti Essercizi per Gravicembalo K 1- K 30
Scarlatti's version of the Well-Tempered Klavier - shorter pieces structured as technical exercises, but open to expressive possibilities. Prime material for any practicing keyboardist.
George Frideric Handel Wassermusik, Suite nr. 2 in D-dur, HWV 349
Not quite as ear-catching as the first suite, but the one or two prominent oboe solos here are a nice contrast.
George Frideric Handel Wassermusik, Suite nr. 3 in G-dur, HWV 350
More string-dominated than the other two suites - perhaps the weakest melodically, but there is a section with a lively pipe jig that rates highly on a scale of pure, unabashed whimsy.
George Frideric Handel Saul, HWV 53
An exceedingly dramatic oratorio, telling the life of King Saul through the eyes of the Biblical David. Handel's choral music has a ferocity to it unlike most of his other works, although as is common with Handel, the libretto is an English one rather than his native tongue.
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi Stabat mater
Pergolesi's epitaph, literally written on his deathbed. Not quite a reinvention of the wheel, and some have criticized the work for its overly dramatic flair, but the opening duet is very affecting.
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi La serva padrona
Initially intended as intermezzo entertainment for a separate, serious opera of Pergolesi's, this little comedy work ended up becoming insanely popular in Italian theaters, remaining one of Pergolesi's most enduring and popular works. A great display of operatic ideas (specifically, the now-popular opera buffa) in miniature form.
Gregorio Allegri Miserere
This work, written for two choirs and by a wide margin the most famous of Allegri's, gained a mythical stature thanks to its only being performed at the Sistine Chapel during the services of Holy Week. A ban on transcriptions of the work existed until the late eighteenth century, and even then certain performance practices unique to the Chapel have been lost to time. Nevertheless, the work is gorgeous, especially the haunting soprano line that peaks at their high C.
Guillaume De Machaut Messe De Notre Dame
Guillaume Dufay Missa se la face ay pale
Dufay's most famous mass is one based off the motive of an early song of his, "Se la face ay
pale" (English: "if my face seems pale"). The piece is Dufay's attempt at experimenting with
the cyclical mass format, where that single motive is used as a linkage for each movement
of the mass.

Early Music Consort of London (1974): https://open.spotify.com/album/0ux604b4BmFNIf3Fbwq6uM?
si=aP0XzM73TBq2yMFbKuprVA&utm_source=copy-link&nd=1
Guillaume Dufay Missa L'homme arme
Mass Ordinary settings of the tune "L'homme arme" were common in the 1450s and onwards,
and this setting of Dufay's is among the most famous of these. The work allows each voice to
move with an elegance that befits the melody, and the "Gloria" section in particular harkens
back to the peaks and valleys present in the Aquitanian style of writing.

Hilliard Ensemble (1987): https://open.spotify.com/album/5CljeZ3osbKfvusVonwla3?
si=S69COAKxQ8eVcoy6YbPfcw&utm_source=copy-link&nd=1
Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber Mystery Sonatas
A lovely collection of sonatas that sounds at least 50 years ahead of its time. Biber was not generally considered among the elite Baroque composers, at least until this work was discovered (around 1905), which leaves him (like Bach to come) as a more contemporary discovery and a more-appreciated composer today than he was in his day.
Henry Purcell King Arthur, Z.628
Not quite the equal of Dido & Aeneas, but probably the strongest drama Purcell did afterwards, with a captivating plot that takes a left-field look at the Arthur mythos, complete with some fantastic ensemble works.
Henry Purcell The Fairy Queen, Z.629
A very bright Purcell "semi-opera", and perhaps his most famous, being based off the story of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream. Very vibrant music, spirited in a way much of Purcell's other works don't match.
Henry Purcell Come Ye Sons of Art, Z. 323
A grand work written for the birthday of Queen Mary of England, the sixth and final ode of its kind as Mary would die at the end of the year. In its own way, it serves as a forebearer to the composer's own death the following year.
Jacob Obrecht Missa Maria zart
One of the longest surviving Renaissance masses, this late-career work of Obrecht's contains 51
subsections in its 5 movements, taking upwards of an hour to perform. Ambitious and admittedly
still quite melodic in the midst of that technical ambition, it is nevertheless easy to see how
composers began shifting towards a more stripped-back approach following the deaths of Ockeghem,
Obrecht and their cohorts.

The Tallis Scholars (1986): https://open.spotify.com/album/7p7wlMIOFHwE4nuoxp3idO?
si=QdzOUy9DSoCvyrIlihLHQg
Jacob Obrecht Missa Sub tuum praesidium
One of Obrecht's most inventive masses, this piece starts off with 3 voices for its "Kyrie"
movement and adds a new voice with each new section, culminating in a 7-voice "Agnus Dei".
Imitative of Ockeghem in both its expressive and far-reaching technical aspirations, the piece is
indicative not just of why Obrecht was popular in his time, but of why his style quickly became
outmoded in favor of the next generation of composers.

The Clerks' Group (2015): https://open.spotify.com/album/5WPCPw8NJDmIAb2cGofJ2t?si=G-
QlqE8VTSSTiO18hVGtYw
Jean-Baptiste Lully Te Deum
Another stellar Lully motet, this is longer than his usual works of the genre and spends more time in the slower sections than a lot of his other pieces do.
Jean-Baptiste Lully Plaude laetare Gallia
Written as a dedication for Louis XIV's first son, this is an exemplary example of Lully's grand motet writing: brash string + brass sections accompanied with a basso continuo, augmented by a vibrant choir.
Jean-Philippe Rameau Premier Livre de Pièces de Clavecin
A great collection of harpsichord (clavecin) pieces that was important in Rameau making his name as an important harpsichord composer of the time.
Johann Pachelbel Hexachordum Apollinis
A collection of arias with variations that may have been the most well-known thing Pachelbel put out during his lifetime. Given how certain other keyboard composers would experiment with variations on themes in the future, the importance of this piece should not be lost on anybody.
Johann Sebastian Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major, BWV 1048
Superb string writing, the frenetic bowings in that final movement are what classical fans live for.
Johann Sebastian Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G major, BWV 1049
A very beautiful recorder solo in the second movement makes up for a slightly more by-the-numbers opener and closer.
Johann Sebastian Bach 6 Partitas, BWV 825–830
Workman-like pieces with a sense of thematic exploration about them, all six of them extremely lengthy for the time (averaging over 20 minutes apiece).
Johann Sebastian Bach Organ Concerto in D minor, BWV 596
More advanced than the previous year's concerto, powerful intro and some nice harmonic ideas in the piece's final movement.
Johann Sebastian Bach 6 French Suites, BWV 812-817
More excellent, inspired keyboard-writing during perhaps the most creatively fertile period of Bach's career - the fact that none of these suites stand among his very best or most-recognized works of the time is a testament to just how much of a roll he was on.
Johann Sebastian Bach Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068
The second movement (or "Air on a G String") clearly outclasses everything else here, taking time to slow down and focus on the beauty of the melody. Everything else is really good in its own right (sort of like a triple-meter Lully motet, in some ways), but there's a reason this piece is remembered for *the* one movement.
Johann Sebastian Bach Violin Partita No.1 in B minor, BWV 1002
Some of Bach's trademark dissonance makes its way into this piece, a real tour de force for Herr Bach's violin writing.
Johann Sebastian Bach Violin Sonata No.1 in G minor, BWV 1001
The first (and perhaps most famous) of the sonata-partita collection that makes up BWV 1001-1006.
Johann Sebastian Bach Violin Sonata No.2 in A minor, BWV 1003
The last movement is by some distance the most interesting thing here, although once again the entire piece is nice.
Johann Sebastian Bach Violin Partita No.3 in E major, BWV 1006
Lively piece that closes out this collection nicely.
Johann Sebastian Bach Cello Suite No.3 in C major, BWV 1009
A lively second movement and an emotive fourth highlight this very strong third suite of Bach's.
Johann Sebastian Bach Concerto for 2 Violins in D minor, BWV 1043
Beautiful string work, probably as close to imitating the Italian style of string writing as Bach ever got.
Johann Sebastian Bach Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147
The source of Bach's most famous melody (transcribed in English as "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" in 1926), this is a lively cantata written in 10 movements and originally based off an older Advent cantata.
Johann Sebastian Bach Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041
A stellar first movement that's as good as anything Vivaldi did paired with a solid, but less remarkable final two movements.
Johann Sebastian Bach Triple Concerto in A minor BWV 1044
Harpsichord, flute and violin combine for a very interesting concerto - the second movement especially plays with some interesting, sparser textures.
Johann Sebastian Bach Harpsichord Concerto No. 2 in E major, BWV 1053
As with the first concerto in the sequence, the first movement here is a clear high point.
Johann Sebastian Bach Harpsichord Concerto No. 3 in D major, BWV 1054
Based off an extant violin concerto, this work is probably the second-best of the harpsichord concertos, again frontloaded with a terrific, dynamic first movement.
Johann Sebastian Bach Harpsichord Concerto No. 5 in F minor, BWV 1056
Easily the best slow movement of the lot, a proper harpsichord feature with the strings doing nothing but sparse, pizzicato plucks. Beautiful stuff.
Johann Sebastian Bach Magnificat, BWV 243
Bach takes a gander at magnificat-writing - whether he ever attempted it again is unclear, but what we have here is a diverse piece of music that explores much in the way of arrangement and instrumentation, a more dynamic piece compared to his other vocal and instrumental works from the period.
Johann Sebastian Bach Violin Concerto BWV 1042 in E Major
An Italian-style 3-movement concerto, and a noticeably longer, more-evolving work than most concertos at that time. The first movement especially is a lengthy tour de force with some arresting melodies.
Johann Sebastian Bach Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major, BWV 564
A little bit more drawn-out and much less abrasive than BWV 565, but its meandering nature is kind of nice because it allows Bach to play with space in his arrangements a bit. Not to be slept on.
Johann Sebastian Bach Toccata No.1 in F-sharp minor, BWV 910
This early Bach toccata is one of his quickest-paced, spme difficult hand patterns and intriguing harmonic choices being played in a relatively unusual key signature for him.
Johannes Ockeghem Missa Mi-Mi
One of the stand-outs from Ockeghem's oeuvre, this shorter mass setting is based off of a chanson
the composer had written some years prior, "Presque transi". The bass part is a clear standout
here, getting moments to shine such as a counterpoint feature with the melody in the Agnus Dei
section. Ockeghem's expressiveness in his usage of dynamics is very pronounced in each movement.

Hilliard Ensemble (1985): https://open.spotify.com/album/7e6VZeeGFOe74KT78DAM85?
si=Zk6dkd0PRTyNS_z564-YXQ
Josquin Des Prez Missa L'homme armé sexti toni
Subtitled for the six tones that represent the Guidonian hexachord (the foundations of sight-singing and modern choral performance generally), this is generally the less-regarded of the two L'homme arme masses, much more straight-forward in its construction and less interesting dynamically. Even still, it's a worthwhile listen for the sake of contrasting those two masses, and Josquin loves his canons so those are always a given, enjoyable to hear.
Josquin Des Prez Missa de Beata Virgine
For a long while, this was the most famous of Josquin's late-career masses, full of contrapuntal harmonic lines and curiously-administered arrangings of the voices. Despite its somber tone, moments in this piece are unusually bombastic for Josquin, and each movement is based on a traditional plainsong melody - perhaps more of a callback than a look to the future.
Leonin Viderunt Omnes
Of the two named members of the Notre Dame school of polyphony, Leonin is the elder of the two
and, perhaps by necessity, the one whose influence has lasted least of all. Before Perotin opted
to add additional voices into his arrangements of chant, however, Leonin's arrangements were the
most complex bits of Western two-part polyphony that have survived to this day. In this, his
setting of the hymn Viderunt omnes, the two voices draw out the titular line for what seems
like an eternity, switching registers and, in the case of the upper voice, singing some gorgeous
melismas. Organum existed before Leonin's time, but his contemporaries claim that he perfected the
style, and it is difficult to disagree after hearing this work.

Tonus Peregrinus (2005): https://open.spotify.com/track/1TCx5p8MDtp71mOsVpHIQG?si=bb2110b24c7b45bc
Marc-Antoine Charpentier Te Deum, H. 146
The most famous piece by France's most chameleonic composer of the time, even including Lully. Contains dramatic contrasts in a way that Lully's grand motets sorely lack.
Nicolas Gombert Magnificat primi toni
Gombert's first Magnificat is a splendid piece - probably the most famous of his as well, and for good reason. As is typical of the magnificat format, the piece is written as a collection of short motets, the last of which builds up to a truly overwhelming climax.
Pierre de la Rue Requiem
Another early example of a Requiem mass, this one more complete than Ockeghem's and arguably more
befitting of the darkness that the text represents. la Rue's trademark contrabass lines are in
evidence here, bottoming out at around a low B (B1) which was an absurdly low range for the time
and very difficult to replicate even today.

Ensemble Clement Janequin (2007): https://open.spotify.com/album/671XvAIqX82tGvKfgrZEDx?
si=Bm0hmwvYRJqMlR6U5KbbXQ
Roland de Lassus Missa osculetur me
A generally strong Lassus mass written for two separate choirs, this piece has a rather unique Credo section that sticks out noticeably compared to all the other movements - parts of it seem almost isorhythmic, a sort of throwback to medieval polyphony. It's a credit to Lassus's compositional versatility that he can pull off such an imitation as well as he does.
Thomas Tallis Tunes for Archbishop Parker's Psalter
A collection of nine brief Psalm settings intended for publication in a psalter (psalm collection) written by English theologian Matthew Parker. The settings are all very brief, but the melodies included are rich, ranking among the most popular English melodies from this period.
Thomas Tallis Lamentations of Jeremiah the Prophet I
One of the most popular works of the most popular composer of the Elizabethan era, this setting of the Lamentations of Jeremiah features some of the hallmarks of the era: very syllabic, punchy singing, enunciated to a fine degree and rarely pairing more than one note to a syllable. What florid sections there are exist sparingly, as clear contrasts to the main body of the work. Textually dense, these English compositions were.
Tomas Luis de Victoria Missa Surge propera
Very dynamic, this mass feels significantly more matured compared to Victoria's earlier works - there's a crushing solemnity to the work, especially in the closing Agnus Dei movement that tugs at the listener's heartstrings.
Tomas Luis de Victoria Tenebrae Responsories
A set of 18 four-voice motets written for the Matins traditions of Thursday, Friday and Saturday of the Catholic Holy Week.
Tomaso Albinoni Adagio in G minor
A beautiful piece regardless of its questionable origins - if not Baroque in creation, it's certainly Baroque in spirit.
Unknown Composer Missa caput
The earliest-known setting of the Mass Ordinary to be arranged in a "cyclical" format
- that is, each section of the mass shares the same underlying melody part, called a "cantus
firmus". Attributed at times to Guillaume Dufay and John Dunstable, it's likely this was
composed by an Englishman whose name has been lost to the sands of time, yet evidently
possessed some notoriety in his day as the piece spawned a large quantity of imitators very
quickly.

Capella Cordina (1972): https://open.spotify.com/album/3GNGAJ3fcVDxRpgq8cI7mr?
si=oJocajITQIGK69YOTT-LwQ&utm_source=copy-link&dl_branch=1&nd=1
William Byrd Mass for Five Voices
Five voices isn't necessarily better than four, but this is still a nice piece with some technically challenging lines (although, like the three-voice mass, the Kyrie section feels rushed).

3.5 great
Adam de la Halle Jeu de Robin et Marion
Adam de la Halle (1240 - 1287) was the most famous of the trouveres -- troubadours who spread the
Occitan lyrical tradition to the various dialects of northern France. His writings were notable
for spanning an unusually broad set of genres for a lyrical poet. In addition to his songs
(chansons), Adam wrote polyphonic music, such as motets, and became one of the first
composers on record to experiment with more complex sets of poetic forms: ballades,
rondeaux, and virelais, which start to become more prominent in French music during
the coming decades. His most famous piece, Le jeu de Robin et Marion ("Robin and Marion, A
Play with Music"), is a long-form play based around a secular love story, with featherweight,
dancing melodies that may have invoked folk music traditions of the day. The play differs greatly
from the theme of fin' amors, however; instead, it is an extension of the
pastourelle form of poetry, in which the love in question is not unattainable, but is
extant and threatened by an outside force, a rogue knight who wishes to kidnap the female love
interest.

Tonus Peregrinus (2006): https://open.spotify.com/album/7dmIdo5biRHkicdEusfaTW?
si=7po7PxWmSLStNdGUa1l3GQ&dl_branch=1
Adrian Willaert Missa Christus resurgens
One of the great early writers of madrigals, Adrian Willaert's mastery seems to have been with shorter compositional forms as opposed to masses - this, his most famous mass (based off a Richafort melody), doesn't stand out particularly, despite having some beautiful melodic parts.
Antonio Vivaldi Gloria, RV 589
Solid late-career sacred work of Vivaldi's - sort of the last vestiges of a Baroque era that is starting to really fall by the wayside at this point.
Antonio Vivaldi Six Flute Concertos, Op. 10
A lot of these concertos feel taken straight out of the vernacular dances from the age - a lively and entertaining collection of pieces, indeed.
Antonio Vivaldi Mandolin Concerto in C major, RV 425
A bit of a trifle, but interesting in how it differs instrumentally (if not necessarily in spirit) from the rest of Vivaldi's work.
Cipriano de Rore Passio
An early choral setting of the St. John Passion. More important in the context of the genre than it is indicative of Cipriano's other work.
Cristobal de Morales Officium defunctorum
A nice setting of the Office of the Dead, with lots of homophonic chord movements used in a way that seems to be present in a lot of Spanish Renaissance compositions.
Francesco Landini Ecco la primavera
The Trecento period of Italian history was one defined by the region's destruction and subsequent
rebirth in the fourteenth century, thanks to the catastrophic effects of the bubonic plague. The
music of this era, while inspired in part by the music of the troubadours, generally entered a
sphere unto itself by the later part of the century. Spearheading this was Francesco Landini (c.
1325 - 2 September 1397), a blind Florentine organist whose melodies were so beautiful that, as
contemporary commenters stated, "hearts burst from [listeners'] bosoms". "Ecco la primavera"
(trans.: "Behold, spring has come") is one of his most enduring pieces, a two-part ballata (a
popular genre of music at the time) that makes use of some lovely contrasts and deploying of non-
"perfect" intervals, such as thirds and sixths.

Anonymous 4 (2001): https://open.spotify.com/track/5YYaveMPfeUClulJB6ON9e?si=0608768ca8c74270
Georg Philipp Telemann Concerto for 2 Horns in D major, TWV 52:D2
A lively early example of a horn concerto.
Georg Philipp Telemann Concerto for Recorder, Flute, Strings and Continuo
Schoolteachers everywhere lament Telemann's normalization of the recorder, even if they don't know it. Nevertheless, the instrument is rather nice when played well, and the flute duets here are certainly examples of that.
George Frideric Handel 6 Grand Concertos, Op. 3 / HWV 312-317
Nice music, although somewhat strangely assembled (and likely published without Handel's knowledge). As a mish-mash of Handel's concertos, it's quite nice.
Giovanni Battista Sammartini Symphony in F Major, J-C 32
A very primitive example of the symphony as a genre, very Baroque in its roots with a vibrant string melody in the first movement.
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina Missa sine nomine a 6
Bit of a nondescript mass overall apart from a lively Credo, yet historically important for being an inspiration for Bach's Mass in B minor.
Heinrich Isaac Missa de Apostolis
Isaac's main success seems to have been in his motets and shorter pieces, but this is a nice mass setting all the same, contrapuntal without exercising itself too unnecessarily in that regard.
Heinrich Schutz Musikalische Exequien, Op. 7
A requiem in all but name, the first of its kind to be published in the German language (using predominantly Lutheran texts).
Henry Purcell Odes for St. Cecilia's Day - Music for Queen Mary
An early tune of Purcell's that he turned into a sort of song cycle dedicated to Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians.
Henry Purcell The Gordian Knot Untied, Z.597
Terrific overture to this one, another of the myriad incidental musics Purcell would compose.
Henry Purcell The Married Beau, Z.60
More incidental music, in this case incidental and nothing but.
Henry Purcell The Virtuous Wife, Z.611
Strong later-career arranging from Mr. Purcell here.
Jacopo Peri Euridice
Perhaps time has rendered this, the earliest-surviving complete opera, a bit ham-fisted in its thematic treatments. But credit must go to Peri, a prolific composer despite his style growing out-of-fashion quickly, for helping establish operatic tropes like the contrast between recitative (speech-like singing) and arias (dramatic singing) and the soloist/ensemble contrast so early on.
Jean-Baptiste Lully Atys
Lully's operas, despite nearly always being based off tragedies, retain a brightness about them that sets them apart from Italian styles like opera seria that were growing so popular in the day. Unfortunately, this leaves Lully as more of a sidenote to operatic development rather than a leader, but his stuff is worth listening to all the same.
Johann Sebastian Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F major, BWV 1046
Originally intended as the introduction to a cantata, this is easily among the weakest of the Brandenburg concertos, if not the absolute weakest. This is still to say it's a very good listen, but the brightness doesn't quite *pop* as much here.
Johann Sebastian Bach Clavier-Übung III, BWV 669-689
A bit of a plodder, collecting a bunch of good, rarely great organ works under a single banner. It is nice to hear Bach sound so reserved with this instrument, though, and some of the harmonic ideas are very nice indeed.
Johann Sebastian Bach 6 English Suites, BWV 806-811
Being honest: this is a bit of an odd collection, much more French than it is English in terms of style. Having said that, it's an important work for his development as a keyboard composer specifically, and thus is worth seeking out over some of his other works from the period.
Johann Sebastian Bach Toccata No.2 in C minor, BWV 911
Somewhat more pedestrian compared to the other stuff he was writing at the time, but an interesting final movement makes up for that somewhat.
Johann Sebastian Bach Violin Sonata No.3 in C major, BWV 1005
Not one of his standout violin works as a whole, but there's some cool dissonance at work in the first movement which is interesting.
Johann Sebastian Bach Cello Suite No.4 in E-flat major, BWV 1010
Indeed, it's a bit direction-less compared to the other suites in this collection, but still enjoyable all the same.
Johann Sebastian Bach Cello Suite No.5 in C minor, BWV 1011
The very excellent, extended first movement makes everything else pale in comparison a bit here, although as ever, it's a very nice listen.
Johann Sebastian Bach Organ Concerto in G, BWV 592
Nice first organ concerto, albeit a bit restrained compared to his other works for the same instrument.
Johann Sebastian Bach Harpsichord Concerto No. 4 in A major, BWV 1055
At times, the strings dominate the texture over the harpsichord, which is the greatest blemish on what is otherwise the most hierarchically alanced of the concertos to date, at least in terms of structure.
Johann Sebastian Bach Toccata/Fugue in Dmin
Perhaps the least interesting toccata/fugue pairing, and by leaps and bounds not as compelling as the other D minor composition. The fugue still has some nice ideas with the voicings and how the theme works its way Nick into the flow, however.
Johann Sebastian Bach Aria variata in A minor, BWV 989
Nice theme and variations for keyboard, often paired with the Goldberg Variations despite not being at all from the same era of his career.
Johann Sebastian Bach Capriccio in B-flat major, BWV 992
Fledgling Bach here - 19 years old at the time of writing this, supposedly as a tribute to his brother who had left the country. A nice listen, more interesting than one might expect a teenager's compositions to sound like.
Johann Sebastian Bach Overture in the French style, BWV 831
This and the Italian Concerto are considered companion pieces to the partita collections from the same timeframe - and indeed, they fit into that sound like a glove, despite being more drawn out and longer-form.
Johann Sebastian Bach Lute Suite in E minor, BWV 996
An odd little piece likely written for a lute-harpsichord rather than a lute, and it shows in the writing - it sounds much more like a lute playing a keyboard piece than something written explicitly for the lute itself.
Johann Sebastian Bach Toccata No.4 in D minor, BWV 913
Third movement is the most interesting here, very spacey and playing with some interesting harmonic choices.
Johann Sebastian Bach Toccata No.5 in E minor, BWV 914
Short but sweet toccata, very energetic if questionably-paced (fourth movement is almost as long as the previous three combined).
Johann Sebastian Bach Toccata No. 6 in G minor, BWV 915
An extended final movement is the highlight of this early Bach toccata, prime for virtuosic improvisation.
Johann Sebastian Bach Harpsichord Concerto No.6 in F major, BWV 1057
A reworking of the 4th Brandenburg Concerto - Bach covering Bach is not the most inspired concept, and this is one of the weaker concertos in this collection (buoyed by the 4th Brandenburg being a very good work in its own right).
Johann Sebastian Bach Concerto No.7 in G Minor, BMV 1058
Another concerto where the emphasis is on the slow movement - not quite as strong a slow movement as the 5th, however.
Johannes Ockeghem Requiem
The earliest polyphonic setting of the Requiem mass on record (a possible earlier mass by
Dufay is lost), this mass (also known as the Missa pro defunctis) is an early example
of a burgeoning late-15th century style of writing called "paraphrase masses". In these
masses, the cantus firmus is taken from an existing sacred source, often from traditional
plainsong chants, and the melody is embellished substantially. Ockeghem's requiem is
believed to be incomplete, but one can still find unique elements in what does exist -
namely, a melancholy found in little other polyphonic music of the time, accentuated by the
occasional chromaticism and florid lower voices.

Hilliard Ensemble (1985): https://open.spotify.com/album/7e6VZeeGFOe74KT78DAM85?
si=Zk6dkd0PRTyNS_z564-YXQ
Johannes Prioris Requiem
The only especially noteworthy composition of Johannes Prioris, this early Requiem betrays a strong influence from Italian choral writing. Much of the harmonies are written as block chords, moving in unison rather than each voice working at its own pace, which was found more often in the Burgundian writings of the day.
John Taverner Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas
A strong English mass from the period, this is John Taverner's best-known work, notable for featuring no Kyrie section. Instead, the Kyrie is "troped", added in as its own melismatic phrase without any added harmonies; in effect, it relegates the Kyrie to an introductory role amidst the greater piece.
Josquin Des Prez Missa Hercules dux Ferrariae
An early example of a technique called soggetto cavato (English: "carved-out subject"), where the music is based on a cantus firmus based on individual solfege symbols, this piece is a quirky exercise based on the name of the then-Duke of Ferrara, Josquin's patron at the time.
Josquin Des Prez Missa Malheur me bat
A relatively minor Josquin mass, this one (English translation: "misfortune beats me") has a particularly florid Agnus Dei section and is one of the rare masses of his that contains six individual parts - more of the subtle complexities that define his style.
Manuel Cardoso Requiem
The Portugese equivalent to Palestrina, this is a very nice Requiem that falls under the radar compared to more popular versions.
Robert de Visee Suite No. 9 in D Minor
Nice guitar suite from one of Baroque-era France's premiere composers of the style.
Roland de Lassus Requiem
A strong, if perhaps not a stand-out Requiem setting.
Tomas Luis de Victoria Missa De Beata Maria Virgine
Another pleasant early Victoria mass with more than a shade of melancholy to it.
Tomas Luis de Victoria Missa pro defunctis
Sort of a dry run for what's to come, a four-voice Requiem that Victoria would revisit and rearrange 20 years later in six-voice form.
Tomas Luis de Victoria Missa gaudeamus
A somewhat early Victoria mass that has a bit of a stilted flow to it, but balances this with many lovely minor-key passages.
William Byrd Mass for Three Voices
Probably the least of Byrd's mass trilogy, not just because it has less parts to work with, but because the overall structure is thrown off-kilter by a confusingly brief Kyrie. Still gorgeous at its peaks, though.

3.0 good
Alexander Agricola Missa In myne zyn
Another of the late-period Burgundian composers, Alexander Agricola is also remembered for the
elaborate structures of his compositions. The Missa in myne zyn is especially brim-filled
with motion, to the point where it begins to suffocate under its own complexity. It is also an
incomplete mass setting, with no "Kyrie" section having survived.

A:N:S Chorus (2014): https://open.spotify.com/album/6Gv3xNwDpOPERySEk7bAn2?si=nXYr94h8QNa-
0AGb_szJ-w
Henry Purcell Dioclesian, Z.627
Incidental music composed in a way that
garnered this play the label "semi-opera" -
any singing is done only by supporting cast
members, with the main characters only
speaking. Not one of Purcell's better works in
that realm, his melodies get more interesting
later on.
Henry Purcell The Indian Queen, Z.630
Only a partially complete semi-opera, which makes it sound like there's hardly any music to speak of. It's not quite true, and at any rate, the music that's there is quite nice, actually.
Henry Purcell Abdelazer, Z.570
More incidental music - interesting that contemporary recordings choose to include some of the spoken text.
Johann Sebastian Bach Cello Suite No.6 in D major, BWV 1012
Although interesting in the sense that it may have been composed for a smaller version of the cello, called a violoncello piccolo, this is a pretty inessential Bach piece and the weakest of the cello suites by a fair margin.
Johann Sebastian Bach Toccata No.3 in D major, BWV 912
A slower toccata that doesn't offer much of special interest given his other works.
Johann Sebastian Bach Toccata No.7 in G major, BWV 916
As Bach works go, this one positively lumbers along, and I don't mean that in an especially kind way. Perhaps the weakest of this earliest set of toccatas.
Walther von der Vogelweide Palastinalied
Germany's form of courtly love emerged in the form of a genre called Minnesang ("love song"),
believed to have originally evolved independently of the troubadour tradition but fell under its
influence at some point in the late 12th century. The most famous practitioner of Minnesang, or
"Minnesanger", was Walther von der Vogelweide (c. 1170 - c. 1230), from whom approximately 100
lyrics survive. Only one of his melodies is known, however: "Nu alrest lebe ich mir werde", also
known as the Palastinalied, which is not even a love song at all, but rather new sacred
lyrics that were likely set to an existing troubadour melody. As such, it is rather difficult to
evaluate Walther's abilities as a composer, and as his are by far the most prominent Minnesang
compositions, the musical genre itself remains somewhat a mystery.

Early Music Consort of London (1971): https://open.spotify.com/track/7xSRVPjj7WfO2GYNontpeZ?
si=c67707dca99c4b26
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