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Discover music of the Baroque Era by Clive Unger-Hamilton

paperback 160 pp
Naxos books.
ISBN 978-1-84379-234-5
[With free access to Naxos web site to hear 2½ hours of excerpts from Baroque music by Bach, Handel, Scarlatti, Buxtehude, Pachelbel, Lully, Purcell, Corelli, Vivaldi, Charpentier and others (detailed list below, not presented in the order in the book’s narrative)]
Experience Classicsonline


This book, that slips so handily into your jacket pocket, is essentially an alternative format to the book and 2 CD format of Naxos 8.558160-61 already reviewed on this site. The excerpt content of the 2 CDs is reiterated at the foot of this review. These excerpts are accessed via the Naxos web site. The book gives access and track references at the appropriate points in the narrative. The advantage, of course, is space-saving - that you don’t have to keep the 2CDs yet all the excerpts are two or three computer clicks away - after you have entered the necessary security codes at the first visit to the site. The downside is that many computers will not have the facility for super hi-fi quality that the CD format will allow but having said that my Bose headphones delivered quality enough sound from the CD-standard excerpts on the Naxos site.

The book is very good value. As other MusicWeb reviewers have mentioned, it packs a tremendous amount of information into its 160 pages (with index). The main narrative carries the story forward from the beginnings of the Baroque era (in about 1600) to its close (around 1750) taking in all the major composers from each major European country (Germany, France, Italy, England and the Netherlands). On the way we learn the meaning of some fundamental terms such as da capo and how, why and when the system of major and minor keys emerged. There is also a section on how the modern violin developed and how Napoleon defaced a priceless Stradivari cello. Also included, from pages 110 to 141, is a useful Timeline feature that has alongside milestone years, the music composed and the general history and the art, architecture and literature of those years. An alphabetical list of Baroque composers is also included and a map of Europe showing the birthplaces of the Baroque composers. There is also a glossary of musical terms and biographical details about the book’s author harpsichordist and music book author, Clive Unger-Hamilton.

A first class concept and a handy book for musicians and music lovers to carry around in their pockets.

Ian Lace


The music on the site:
Gregorio ALLEGRI (1582 - 1652) Misereri Mei
Johan Sebastian BACH (1685 - 1750) Violin Sonata No. 1: 1st Movement; Cantata Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen, BWV 51: Aria ‘Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen’; Prelude from Prelude and Fugue in G major, BWV 550; Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, BWV 1047: 3rd Movement; Prelude and Fugue in G minor BWV 861 from ‘The Well-tempered Clavier’; Wedding Cantata, BWV 202: Aria ‘Sich uben im Lieben’; St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Wir setzen uns mit Tranen nieder; Harpsichord concerto in F minor, BWV 1056: 2nd Movement
Dietrich BUXTEHUDE (1637 - 1707) Membra Jesu Nostri: 3rd movement.
Pierre CERTON (d. 1572) La, la, la, je ne l’ose dire
Marc-Antoine CHARPENTIER (1643 - 1704) Noel: Un flambeau, Janette, Isabelle
Arcangelo CORELLI (1653 - 1713) Concerto Grosso in G minor, Op. 6 No. 8 ‘Christmas Concerto’: Pastorale
Francois COUPERIN (1668 - 1733) Les Sentiments; La Manon
Giovanni GABRIELI (1554 - 1612) Sonata pian’e forte, alla quarta bassa, a 8
George Frideric HANDEL (1685 - 1759) Concerto Grosso in B minor: 3rd Movement; Rinaldo: ‘Lascia ch’io pianga’; Acis and Galatea: ‘O Ruddier than the Cherry’; Harpsichord Suite No. 7 in G minor, HWV 432: Passacaille; Messiah: ‘For unto us a child is born’; Concerto Grosso in D minor, Op. 6 No. 10: 6th Movement
William LAWES (1602 - 1645) Royal Consort in D major: Ecco;
Jean-Baptise LULLY (1632 - 1687) Benedictus: 1st movement
Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567 - 1643) Vespers of the Blessed Virgin: Domine ad adiuvandum
Johann PACHELBEL (1653 - 1706) Toccata in C major
Henry PURCELL (1659 - 1695) Hear my prayer, O Lord; Dido and Aeneas: Dido’s Lament
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683 - 1764) Les Boreades: Gavotte pour les Fleures et les Zéphires; Suite in E minor-major: Musette en rondeau, Tambouring
Alessandro SCARLATTI (1660 - 1725) Cantata pastorale per la nascita di Nostro Signore: Aria: L’Autor d’ogni mio bene
Domenico SCARLATTI (1685 - 1757) Sonata in D minor, K120; Sonata in E major K. 380; Sonata in D major, K 96
Heinrich SCHUTZ (1585 - 1672) Der Psalm 100, SWV 36
Jan Pieterszoon SWEELINCK (1562 - 1621) Variations on ‘Mein junges Leben hat ein End’
Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681 - 1767) Overture in D major: Réjouissance
Antonio VIVALDI (1678 - 1741) Flute Concerto in D Maor, Op. 10 No. 3 ‘Il gardellino’: 1st Movement, Allegro; Beatus Vir RV 597
Kym Amps (soprano)
David van Asch (bass)
Tracy Smith Bessette (soprano)
Maya Boog (soprano)
James David Christie (organ)
Lawrence Cummings (harpsichord)
Lucy van Dael (violin)
Bela Drahos (flute)
Jacob Heringman (theorbo)
Harald Hoeren (harpsichord)
Jeno Jando (piano)
Ingrid Kertesi (soprano)
David Miller (theorbo)
Gilbert Rowland (harpsichord)
Wolfgang Rübsam (organ)
Jurgen Schuster (trumpet)
Christine Stelmacovitch (alto)
Balazs Szokolay (piano)
Friederike Wagner (soprano)
Choir of Radio Svizzera, Lugano
Hungarian Festival Choir
Oxford Camerata/Jeremy Summerly
Oxford Schola Cantorum
Accademia Strumentale Italiana Verona/Diego Fasolis
Aradia Ensemble/Kevin Mallon
Camerata Budapest/Laszlo Kovacs
Capella Istropolitana/Jozef Kopelman
Capella Istropolitana/Chrisian Brembeck
Capella Savaria/Mary Terey-Smith
Cologne Chamber Orchestra/Helmut Muller-Bruhl
Failoni Chamber Orchestra, Budapest/Matyas Antal
Hungarian State Symphony Orchestra/Geza Oberfrank
Le Concert Spirituel/Herve Niquet
London Symphony Brass/Eric Crees
Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfinia
Northern Chamber Orchestra/Nicholas Ward
Rose Consort of Viols
Scholars Baroque Ensemble
Sonatori de al Gioiosa Marca, Treviso
Westra Aros Pipers/Bertil Farnlor
Recording dates and locations not given

  Note from Naxos
With each Life & Music biography comes access to a dedicated website for that composer, containing hours of extra music to listen to. The works featured on the CDs may be enjoyed in full on the website (so in the case of Mahler, there are seven symphonies and four major vocal works!) plus many pieces by contemporaries of the composer. There is also a substantial timeline showing the composer’s life beside concurrent events in arts, literature and history.

These websites, together with the book and CDs, make for an unrivalled multimedia approach the biographical format and a uniquely rounded portrait of each composer.



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