William Mathias wrote some of the most imaginative, communicative and joyful choral music of the mid- to late 20th century. These qualities are perhaps most clearly represented in his substantial catalogue of works for choir and, in particular, his settings of sacred texts, notably the invigorating A Babe is Born and the hauntingly beautiful Ave verum corpus, one of his last compositions. This selection also includes the both serious and entertaining sequence of Riddles and the rapt, ecstatic A May Magnificat. More Mathias choral music can be heard on 8.573523.
Listen to TRACK 12: Two Welsh Folk Songs:
Tôn y Melinydd (‘The Miller’s Song’)
William Mathias was one of the most significant and prolific Welsh composers of the 20th century. His flexible and highly approachable style can be heard in the holiday mood of the Suite Parisienne, the brilliance and lyricism of the Capriccio for flute and piano and the wonderfully rhapsodic Sonata for Harp. Mathias’s songs are among the most communicative settings of their kind, including Pan Oeddwn Fachgen (‘A Dream of Youth’), considered by the composer to be ‘one of the finest lyrical poems in modern Welsh’.
Listen to TRACK 04: König Stephan, Op. 117 (‘King Stephen’):
Chorus: Auf dunkelm Irrweg in finstern Hainen
(‘On a false and sombre path’)
Aside from his only opera Fidelio, Beethoven’s general link with the theatre in Vienna came about largely with incidental music or songs to be inserted into the works of other composers – insertion arias. König Stephan was written to celebrate the politically significant opening of a new theatre in Pest, its triumphant mood honouring the ruling Austrian Emperor. Standardbearer of female heroism Leonore Prohaska is commemorated with a Soldier’s Chorus and a Romance with harp accompaniment. In Friedrich von Matthisson’s poem Opferlied (‘Sacrificial Song’), a young man prays to Zeus to bestow upon him beauty and goodness in youth and old age. Two of Beethoven’s four settings are heard on this wide-ranging programme.
Listen to TRACK 04: String Quartet in F major, Hess 32: IV. Allegretto
The string quartets of Beethoven are among the greatest works of their kind, but he composed other works for quartet which have been neglected. This album is dedicated to these intriguing rarities. Alongside the wild and monumental Grosse Fuge, in many ways the culmination of Beethoven’s achievements in the string quartet genre, this recording further displays his mastery of counterpoint by bringing to light brilliant yet forgotten original versions of his quartets Op. 18, No. 1 and Op. 131, plus six virtually unknown miniatures, including his Preludes and Fugues.
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