Seven Times Salt's latest recording revisits music of Shakespeare's time. Some of the tunes are linked to specific plays -- 'Hamlet' is a particular fascination -- while others are suggestive of a theme or a familiar plotline, from 'Romeo and Juliet' to 'The Merchant of Venice.' All of it is beautifully delivered, often in charming arrangements. And the sonic engineering makes for a vivid listening experience.
Once dismissed as "fringe events," musical salons hosted by women in the 18th c. are rightly seen as an invaluable source. Rebecca Cypess' engaging new book makes connections "that might otherwise go unnoticed."
How do you meld 12th-century music with psychedelic synth-pop? Composer Charles Mueller created new settings of troubadour and trobairitz poetry, where boundaries are a blurry mirage in the distance. Medieval ensemble Alkemie and Freelance Nun collaborate for an impressive blend of the medieval and the modern.
Like Monteverdi, Emilio de' Cavalieri took a 'seconda pratica' approach by breaking counterpoint rules to better convey the texts. He also experimented with new styles and techniques, such as dividing a whole-step into more than two pitches. Elam Rotem and his ensemble Profeti della Quinta specialize in this sort of treacherously difficult music to sing, and they deliver Cavalieri's 'Lamentations' with exquisite precision. The effect is a little disorienting and thoroughly mesmerizing.
Perhaps more than any other Mozart opera, 'Don Giovanni' lends itself to an extremely wide range of cultural, psychological, and aesthetic interpretations. In his new book, 'Don Giovanni Captured: Performance, Media, Myth,' Richard Will examines approaches from the past 125 years through recordings and videos, tracing stylistic changes as well as how the anti-hero is inevitably seen as a mirror of ourselves.
Baroque violinist and composer Rebecca Scout Nelson is also a singer with a warmly expressive voice and a songwriter of joy and acute melancholy. Her compelling debut album taps historically informed music-making from two distinct yet complementary traditions.
In a remarkable find, cellist Elinor Frey and her Accademia de' Dissonanti introduce the chamber music of Jean Baur, known as a pioneering harpist in the later 18th c. and a composer of great elegance and charm. They offer sonatas (solo or with continuo) for cello and for harp.
Pauline Viardot was a celebrated opera star in the 19th c. with a rewarding creative life, inspiring Berlioz and Brahms, playing duets with Chopin and Clara Schumann, and composing operettas and reams of mélodies for her own voice. But her youthful keyboard music has been unknown, only rediscovered by fortepianist Patricia García Gil and released in a charming new recording.
In a revealing look into the lives of 'ordinary' folks in 17th and 18th c. Germany, author Tanya Kevorkian taps a wealth of sources that detail city life, from religious beliefs to weddings to the rhythms and rules of town watchmen. With compassion and wisdom, the author notes that historians who look at street life "have to some degree replicated the perspective of the authorities."