BERCEUSE - CLASSICS FOR RELAXING AND DREAMING (Naxos: 8.556610)
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BERCEUSE is the French word for a cradle-song, and in this album we recapturethose moments of tranquillity and dreams fashioned bythose memorable melodies from the world of classical music. Thirteen tracks havebeen selected from the extensive Naxos catalogueof compact discs...
?áPyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky brings to life that magical worldof fantasy in his ballet, The SleepingBeauty. It is the well-known story of the Princess put to sleep by the evilwitch until the handsome Prince comes to wake her with a kiss. The graceful Adagio forms part of the happy and colourful third act, perfectly picturing the grace of theballerinas.
The year1802 was a turbulent one in the life of Ludwigvan Beethoven. He was thirty-two and had fallen in love with the Countess Giulietta Guicciardi who was justseventeen. Sadly it was a one-sided love, and the following year her hand wasplaced in marriage elsewhere. His mixed emotions surfaced in the Piano Sonatas he was composing at thetime. The tenderness of the 'Moonlight'sonata contrasts with the stormy eruptions of 'The Tempest' sonata. Yet in the eye of the storm comes a moment ofquiet resignation in the Adagio.
The musicof the 17th century Italian composer, AntonioVivaldi, has entered the world of 'pop' classicswith his atmospheric The Four Seasons.
In his later life he directed music at a school for orphaned and abandonedgirls, and musicians travelled from afar to hear thewonderful orchestra and soloists from Piet?á. Many ofhis concertos were written to demonstrate their brilliance, while the centralslow movements pictured a feminine lyricism.
A centurylater Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
wasthe celebrated prodigy, writing music of value by the age of five. Central tohis vast catalogue of works was the imposing series of symphonies. TheThirty-fifth, the 'Haffner', was completed in 1782,having started out life as a Serenade commissioned by the Haffnerfamily in Salzburg
He later condensed the six movements to four, with a particularly warm-toned Adagio. Mozart also wrote concertos foralmost every instrument, including twenty-seven keyboard concertos. TheFourteenth was written in 1784 for his pupil, Barbara Ployer,and has a most innocent a restful Andante
It lookedas if Louis Spohr
was following in Mozart's footsteps, composing and playing the violin to aprofessional standard at the age of eight. As a virtuoso violinist, conductorand composer, he was to become one of the highest paid musicians of his day. Hewas eventually placed in charge of the finest orchestra and opera house in Germany, andthat provided the stimulus for a series of operas and major orchestral works. Todayhe is largely remembered by his chamber music, though his series of violinconcertos are acclaimed as outstanding examples of music from that period. TheSeventh dates from 1814, and contains an elegant Adagio as the second movement.
appears to have had no love for his native Poland,and from 1830 enjoyed the adulation of his audiences in Paris, where he remained until his death atthe age of thirty-nine. In 1838 he completed his set of Twenty-four Preludes,
the second was to become the best known.
Throughout his early life Gabriel Faure composed only in the summer holidays, the rest of his time was spent as teacher and church organist. His life was to change in his late forties when a number of unexpected appointments led to the post of Director of the Paris Conservatoire. His subsequent influence on French music in the early 20th century cannot be overstated. For his own part he was always seeking to write large-scale works, but he was a miniaturist and elegant composer. The Berceuse, an early work dating from 1880, became a particular favourite of the composer.
Johann Sebastian Bach was born in 1685 and was to becomethe greatest German composer of his time. Among his massive output are the Four Orchestral Suites, written in anelegant French style, the crisp Overture
coming from the second suite composed around 1737.
Joseph Haydn was one of life's late starters,his major compositions coming after his fortieth birthday. But he soon made upfor lost time, and in the last thirty-seven years of his life produced a floodof music. In 1787 he received a commission to supply a work in seven sectionsto punctuate the sermon for Good Friday in the Cathedral at Cadiz.
He found the task of writing seven successive slow movements taxing, but thefinished work was outstanding. First written for string orchestra, Haydn latermade a string quartet version, and it is in this format that the Seven Last Words of Christ have become known.
George Frederic Handel
made such an impact on the musical world, that royal courts were vying for his services. In1710 he went to London
and received such adulation, that two years later he settled there, and becamea naturalised English citizen. He served the Royal Court withdistinction, and the appetite for his music was overwhelming. Among his worksfrom 1739 are the TwelveConcerti Grossi, the slow movement from theeighth being of particularly graceful repose.
Tornbetween his love of his music and the naval traditions of his family, theRussian composer, Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, enlisted as a navalcadet, and spent his younger years on board boat. It was that famous trio of composers,Balakirev, Mussorgsky and Cui, who persuaded him tojoin them, and when he returned from his next voyage he had with him his first symphony.
Though fame came through his three orchestral works, Sheherazade, Capriccio Espagnol and the Russian Easter Festival Overture, hewanted t