Here are some recent recordings that have given me much pleasure.
Handel in Italy
Solo Cantatas, with London Baroque
“It was as ever a delight to come to Länna church again with London Baroque and revisit the four cantatas. They are wonderfully individual pieces: “Agrippina” of course the most serious and operatic; as with Monteverdi's “Poppea” one has to forget any historical “dirt” one may have associated with this character, and, with Handel, concentrate on the conflicted human emotions of this woman, one moment outraged and vengeful, the next distraught at the thought of any ill befalling her own child.
“Notte placida” is a delicious serenata, with pastoral touches and some rueful comedy too—this lover has to accept that his dream of success is just that—like all of life!
The other two cantatas are each for one violin and it was a special pleasure for me to sing in turn with Ingrid Seifert (“Un' alma,” an extravagant lover's complaint) and Richard Gwilt (“Figlio,” a more philosophical piece).” —E.K.
In Nativitate Domini
Festive Christmas Music; with Susanne Rydén and Bell'Arte Salzburg
Berlin Classics 0016242BC
“This is a banquet of pieces, some deep and plain, some tender and devotional, some filigree, some rustic, with threads of chorales and luscious string flounces, and a wondrous Biber Sonata in the centre from Annegret Siedel. All the musicians were superb and excellent company too; it was a week to remember—our Christmas in Berlin—in March!” —E.K.
Honey from the Hive
Songs by John Dowland (1563-1626)
“Just one composer here, the incomparable John Dowland; this sequence represents in song four of his most important patrons, including Queen Elizabeth herself. Again I had the joy of singing in Länna; Anthony Rooley supplied lute accompaniment, different from Jakob's sound and style but quite as individual, and also the rationale of the programme, since he has studied this period more closely and for longer than I have!” —E.K.
Musique and Sweet Poetrie
Jewels from Europe around 1600
“Jakob Lindberg's wonderful restored lute, the vital parts of which date back nearly half a millennium, provided the perfect excuse for an anthology of pieces that have been favourites of mine throughout my career. We imagined the instrument, whether travelling through Europe, or remaining in Augsburg where it was made, playing works of the best known masters around 1600. I especially like Jakob's solos on this CD; the church at Länna, Sweden, cherished the lute sound as it does all visitors! Look out for Gregory Huwet's Fantasia, the most perfectly proportioned Renaissance fantasia you could ever meet; Kapsberger's quirky Toccata; or Robert Johnson's heavenly Almain - but everyone will have their favourite.” —E.K.
“Amodei is a fascinating composer, contemporary with and as individual as Scarlatti, each cantata being a little world in itself. I had great fun doing this with two terrific continuo players, Lars Ulrik Mortensen on keyboards and Jakob Lindberg on lute. Each contributes also a solo - as I always request - and very lively they are too. This was the first time I came to Länna church, so the love affair began here.” —E.K.
17th Century English Songs on classical themes
“An anthology of songs to the lute from 17th century England, on Classical themes, some in translation, one or two in the original language. It all started as a special production for the Classical Association; I brushed off my rusty languages from university and Anthony Rooley searched for repertoire in the British Library - the Henry Lawes settings of Anacreon in Greek were a real excitement, printed by Lawes one year, and gone from that volume by the next. The programme proved too entertaining to be left as a one-off, and we have toured happily with it for some years now.” —E.K.
Amy Beach - Chanson d´amour
Songs and instrumental works
“This was an unexpected treat: I was trying repertoire with a lovely piano trio (Paul Barritt, violin; Charles Medlam, cello; James Lisney, piano) and Amy Beach's pieces for this combo really stood out. Then we searched for more songs and found a mass of possibilities. She was a self-taught genius who died at a ripe old age in 1944; her songs are charming and individual - just the right side of sentimentality and using all the instruments involved quite beautifully. Her Piano trio is itself one of my favourite moments on the CD.
Byrd - Consort Songs
A wide-ranging selection of Byrd songs “of sundrie nature”
Harmonia Mundi HMU907383
“I joined the brilliant gamba ensemble Fretwork in Orford Church, Suffolk, for this; despite high winds we had a great time, and Nick Parker the producer managed to capture the excitement of these gorgeous pieces, along with a beautiful sound. Again there's the joy of a good number of instrumental pieces; when I perform with the group some of my best moments are spent sitting in the middle of the group while they play Fancies, Pavans and the like, and I wish the audience were all on that chair where the sound is so thrilling - now is their chance!” —E.K.
Handel - Sacred Cantatas
Salve Regina, Laudate Pueri and other works
“For years I toured with London Baroque but for contractual reasons they couldn't record with me. The relationship with BIS has changed all that, and we've put several favourite programmes on CD. These Handel motets mostly date from his early years in Rome, and display the breezy genius that so enchanted the Cardinals there. They are quite performable with just five artists - the violin parts were probably first played by the likes of Corelli, so they're a treat to hear too.” —E.K.
Handel - Opera Arias
Arias, Duets & Overtures
“This is a reissue of three CDs in one pack of the Handel Opera Arias and Overtures I did with Roy Goodman and the Brandenburg Consort; the middle one (arias for Faustina and Cuzzoni) shared with Catherine Bott. Happy memories; we picked pieces—especially for the outer CDs—with an emphasis on obligato parts, so Katharina Arfken on oboe, Rachel Brown on flute, and Angela East on cello add their individual flair. The magical effect of Roy Goodman on string sections is very much in evidence. (I have also sung for Roy with one or two modern orchestras, and greatly enjoyed their response to him.)” —E.K.
Alessandro Scarlatti - Stabat Mater
Theatre of Early Music
“I did this with Daniel Taylor, a most stylish, musical and congenial countertenor; I really love his sound and the stillness he evokes in performance. Scarlatti's version of this text, better known in Pergolesi's version, is highly individual and very moving.” —E.K.