Three of Palestrina’s Christmas motets, including the magnificent Videntes Stellam Magi for double choir, were balanced by two works by Poulenc – the Quatre Motets pour le Temps de Noël, and what is in its way a quiet little masterpiece of 20th-century choral music, Un Soir de Neige, the cantata he began on Christmas Day 1944 using poems by Paul Éluard.
It seems like a reflective appendix to the great Éluard setting from the previous year, Figure Humaine. In 1705, JS Bach walked 250 miles from Arnstadt to Lübeck in search of inspiration.
In his book Playing With History, John Butt – keyboardist, Bach scholar, Glasgow University’s Gardiner professor of music, director of the Dunedin Consort – considers why we look back.
The book was published in 2002 but its prescience is striking.
He was appalled by the conditions of the slave labourers working inside but asked only that production be increased.
The most important point to note is that movements in Indian classical music are on a one-note-at-a-time basis.Now we can hear the music in all its hysterical, harrowing and honest reality: the Bach, Chopin, Beethoven and Rachmaninov that kept Rhodes from going under.There is real pain in the pivotal chords that shift the mood in the last movement of Beethoven’s piano sonata No 31 in A flat major; aching tenderness and stately grandeur in two Chopin nocturnes (B major, Op 62 No 1 and C minor, Op 48 No 1) and glorious triumph against the odds in Rachmaninov’s prelude in D flat minor, Op 32 No 13. Accademia Bizantina/Dantone(Decca)In The Art of Fugue, “Bach plays to God and himself in an empty church”, the critic and composer Wilfrid Mellers memorably wrote.The form of presentation may however vary between the two systems, as well as from one gharana (family) to another in the former system.In obsessively trying to recreate a mythic past, baroque specialists became militant and intolerant.