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Music from Outhere and other independent labels mainly for Holy Week and Easter
by Brian Wilson

Outhere represents a group of independent labels who can usually be relied on for high quality performances, often of neglected repertoire. I have recently been granted press access to download their entire repertoire and I am concentrating here on music for Holy Week and Easter. Most of these are available to download and all can be purchased on CD direct from Outhere-music.com or from the suppliers who advertise on the MusicWeb International pages.

In Download News 2014/3 I reviewed Philippe Herreweghe’s Harmonia Mundi recording of Carlo Gesualdo’s setting of the Responsories for Holy Saturday (HMA1951320) and mentioned his later, 2012, recording of the complete set of Responsories for the whole Sacred Triduum – Responsoria et alia ad Officium Hebdomadæ Sanctæ spectantia (1611) – plus the canticle Benedictus and Psalm 50 (51), Miserere, on PHI010 (2 CDs [126:35]). I had time then only to sample the later set from Naxos Music Library but now I have been able to listen in more detail to the review download and I am just as impressed by the high quality of the performances as before.

The Outhere press access downloads are at a barely adequate 192kb/s, but that’s good enough to indicate that the CDs should sound well, as should the 320kb/s download from 7digital.com (£9.99) or classicsonline.com (mp3 £15.98, or lossless £17.98). The booklet – not available with the 7digital.com download: subscribers to Naxos Music Library will find it there – contains the texts and English, French and German translations, though these are inconveniently printed separately instead of side by side, as is usual.

The CDs are available from outhere-music.com for 25 Euros; amazon.co.uk have the set for £20.36 and arkivmusic.com for $27.99, reduced as I write to $23.99.

As it happens, another recording of Gesualdo’s Responsories has just appeared on Glossa, another independent label, performed, together with the canticle Benedictus and other Passiontide music by Gesualdo and his near contemporaries from La Compagnia del Madrigale GCD922803 (3 CDs [185:45]). The Responsories were sung in three sets at Matins on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Whereas most performances sing them continuously, here they are interspersed where the readings would occur liturgically with settings of Italian words by the likes of Luzzasco Luzzaschi and Luca Marenzio.

There’s little to choose between the performances on PHI and Glossa, so the presence or absence of the extra hour of music on Glossa and the availability of that recording as a lossless download may tip the balance for you.

Download from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library but neither source offers the booklet of texts and notes.












The Responsories for Maundy Thursday are performed by The King’s Singers on Signum SIGCD048 – ignore the link which I gave to passionato.com when recommending this alongside the Gimell recording of the Holy Saturday Responsories (CDGIM015 here): download from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library (no booklet from either).

Zig-Zag Territoires have a wider selection of Gesualdo’s music, not only from the 1611 Reponsories but also from Sacrarum Cantionum Quinque Vocibus Liber Primus (Napoli, Costantino Vitale, 1603) and Sacrarum Cantionum Liber Primus ... Sex Vocibus (Napoli, 1603) interspersed with instrumental music from Ascanio Maione’s Secondo Libro di Diversi Capricci per Sonare (Napoli, 1609), performed by Concerto Soave in 2012 (ZZT319). CD1 is devoted to motets and capricci and CD2 to madrigals and capricci from Gesualdo’s Sesto Libro di Madrigali (1611) and Maione’s Secondo Libro, as before.

You can find full details in Gary Higginson’s review; like him, I greatly enjoyed this recording but would have liked a little more bite and more of the drama suggested by the cover image. Purchase from outhere-music.com for 25 Euros or download in mp3 or m4a from 7digital.com (£9.99); booklet obtainable from outhere-music.com).

Further sacred music by Gesualdo can be found on a Harmonia Mundi recording from Vocal Consort Berlin/James Wood of his Second Book –Sacrae Cantiones Liber Secundus (1603) – which I reviewed in DL News 2013/4 (HMC902123 or 31961853). The download from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit) now comes with a booklet, the lack of which I bemoaned – perhaps someone is reading what I write, after all.

Ricercar have gathered together seven CDs containing over nine hours of music from their back catalogue (1982-2003) and released them in a digi-pack (RIC344). Planned as the first of a themed series of such reissues, German Baroque Music, Passion and Resurrection ranges from Heinrich Schütz (Seven Last Words and Resurrection Story, with Johann Sebastiani’s St Matthew Passion, still available on RIC280, 2CDs: Mark Padmore, Paul Agnew, Agnès Mellon, Monika Mauch, Max von Edmond; Ricercar Consort/Philippe Pierlot) to Johann Sebastian Bach’s St John Passion (Les Agrémens and the Chamber Chorus of Namur/Guy van Waas.)

Dietrich Buxtehude’s meditation on the wounds of Christ, Membra Jesu Nostri, comes from a recording first released on the K671 label in 2007: La Chapelle Rhénane; La Maîtrise de Garçons de Colmar/Benoît Haller (still available on K617207). There are also works by Pachelbel – yes he did write more than that Canon – Böhm, Bruhns, Telemann and others. In addition to the John Passion, JSB is represented by the Actus Tragicus,Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit, BWV206 and the Easter Cantata Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV4 (Ricercar Consort) and the organ Preludes Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV718 and 625 (two of many fine contributions from Bernard Foucroulle).

The excerpts from JSB’s Matthew Passion, rearranged for vocal ensemble on RIC280, have, sensibly, not been included, but many will also feel the recording of the John Passion superfluous, with so many fine versions available, including the new recording on the Academy of Ancient Music’s own label – DL News 2014/3. Even so the new set is such good value as to make that effectively a bonus addition to a budget 5-disc set.

I was particularly interested in the work which opens CD2. Johann Sebastiani’s Matthew Passion predates JS Bach’s by several decades but not only does his name sound similar, his recitirende Harmoni von 5 singenden und 6 spielenden Stimmen – the title page is included in the booklet – though less ‘operatic’, also prefigures JSB’s two Passions in ways which I had not anticipated, including the insertion of Lutheran chorale tunes. (Look out for that of O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden.)

Another work which I particularly liked is Georg Philipp Telemann’s Funeral Cantata Du aber Daniel gehe hin (TWV4:17), which opens CD5. The single CD on which it’s coupled with Bach’s Actus Tragicus, BWV106, in similar mood (RIC224), remains available separately as a download from classicsonline.com and can be streamed from Naxos Music Library.

The performances do the music justice and often much more. The opening Schütz Historia der Auferstehung, for example, may be marginally less impressive than my preferred version – see John Sheppard’s review of the Paul Hillier recording, with the Christmas Weihnachts-historie on DaCapo 8.226058 – but it’s well worth having and the later, much sparer setting of the Seven Last Words even more so. Similarly, this performance of Buxtehude’s now much-recorded Membra would not be my first choice, but it, too, is very far from a write-off. I see that I contrived to ascribe The Sixteen’s very fine recording of this work to the Linn label in March 2010 – it’s actually on their own Coro label, COR16082.

I received the recording, like all those reviewed here, in mp3 only and at the less-than-ideal bit-rate of 192kb/s; even so, I had no complaints. The multi-lingual booklet is well illustrated but, unfortunately, offers no texts. Those for Bach are easy enough to find on the web, as also should be the Schütz, but the lack of the others is problematic.

Purchase direct from outhere-music.com for 35 Euros or amazon.co.uk for £29.99, in the latter case, bizarrely, not due for release until 21 April, 2014, which is too late for Holy Week and Easter Sunday. Even worse, arkivmusic.com won’t have it until 28 April, at $48.99. Other suppliers seem to have it now and you may find it for as little as £26. If it’s just the music on RIC280 that you want, that can be downloaded in mp3 for £7.99 from classicsonline.com.

A useful supplement to all this German Passiontide music comes in the form of the world premiere recording of Reinhard Keiser’s 1712 setting of the Brockes Passionder für die Sünde der Welt gemarterte und sterbende Jesus, Jesus tortured and dying for the sin of the world – a conflation of the accounts from the four gospels which was very popular in Germany – both Telemann and Handel set it. Vox Luminis and Les Muffati are directed by Peter van Heyghen on a 2-CD set, Ramée RAM1303 [120:32] The CDs are not due from amazon.co.uk until after Good Friday, surely the ideal time to play the music, so your best bet is to buy direct from outhere-music.com for 25 Euros.

Download in mp3, with booklet, from classicsonline.com or stream from Naxos Music Library. The less expensive download from 7digital.com comes without booklet but you can read that at outhere-music.com.

Em Marshall was disappointed with a CPO recording of Keiser’s Passiontide music – review: incidentally, we managed to mangle his name there to Kaiser and even Kasier – but the new recording of the Brockes Passion is much better, at least on a par with the Christophorus recording of his St Mark Passion which I liked in DL Roundup March 2012/2.

Though they are not related to Easter, I couldn’t resist including two recordings of Philippe Herreweghe with distinguished soloists and Collegium Vocale Gent in Bach Cantatas. On PHI LPH006 he presents Nos. 25, 138, 105 and 46 – review by John France – and, more recently, on LPH012 we have Nos. 48, 73, 44, 109, all from his first Leipzig cycle, and Johann Schelle’s 5-part aria Komm, Jesu, komm. The Schelle is included for no other reason that I can deduce than that he was Bach’s predecessor as Thomaskantor and Bach set the same words later as a motet. There is an ample booklet of notes, texts and translations.

Purchase LPH006 from outhere-music.com – here – and LPH012 – here – each for 19 Euros. Both can be downloaded from classicsonline.com or streamed from Naxos Music Library, both with booklet. LPH006 is also available in mp3 and lossless sound from eclassical.com (no booklet – but that is available to read at outhere-music.com).

Herreweghe’s Bach Cantatas are always worth hearing, especially if you don’t have one of the complete series – Gardiner (SDG), Suzuki (BIS), Rilling (Hänssler) or Leonhardt and Harnoncourt (Teldec/Warner). That also applies to his earlier recordings of many of the cantatas for Harmonia Mundi, several of which, along with some of his PHI albums, can be found in mp3 and lossless sound at eclassical.com:

 • HMA1951365 : Bass Cantatas (BWV82, 56 and 158) – Peter Kooy and La Chapelle Royale – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library. Cantata No.158 is for Easter Tuesday, making this an appropriate album to consider for Eastertide.

 • HMC901644 : Alto Cantatas (BWV170, 54 and 35) – Andreas Scholl and La Chapelle Royale – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library. A personal favourite, not least for the participation of Andreas Scholl, I’ve owned this in an earlier incarnation on CD for several years.

 • HMC901270 : Trauerode (BWV198) and Cantata No.78 – Charles Brett, Howard Crook, Ingrid Schmithüsen and La Chapelle Royale – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library

 • HMC901605 : Advent Cantatas (BWV36, 61 and 62) – Sarah Connolly, etc. and La Chapelle Royale – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library

 • HMC901513 : Easter Oratorio (BWV249) and Cantata No.66 – Soloists, Collegium Vocale Gent – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library. A worthy alternative to the fine recordings by John Eliot Gardiner and the other recordings mentioned in DL News 2014/3, especially as Cantata No.66 continues the theme, having been written for Easter Monday. Both works began life on secular themes, but you would never know it. In March 2010 I marginally preferred this recording to that included in a 4-CD Hänssler set of cantatas for Palm Sunday, Easter, Ascension and Pentecost. (But NB the correct BWV number of the Oratorio is 249, not 149 as per my typo of 2010.)

 • HMC901690 : Cantatas 120, 119 and 29 – Soloists, Collegium Vocale Gent – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library.

 • HMC901791 : Cantatas Nos. 2, 20 and 176 – Soloists, Collegium Vocale Gent – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library.

 • HMC901998 : Passiontide Cantatas (BWV22, 23 (both Quinquagesima, 1723), 127 (Quinquagesima, 1725) and 159 (Quinquagesima, 1729)) – Dorothee Mields (soprano); Matthew White (alto); Jan Kobow (tenor); Peter Kooy (bass); Collegium Vocale Gent – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library. Michael Cookson made this Recording of the Month and Recording of the Year review. If you go for just one album from this list, this is not only appropriate to the season – actually all were written for Quinquagesima, the Sunday before Lent, but the Passion is the theme: there were no cantatas at Leipzig in Advent or Lent – it’s appropriate at any time.

 • HMC901843 : Weinen, klagen … Cantatas Nos. 12, 38 and 75 – Soloists, Collegium Vocale Gent – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library. Cantata No.12 was written for the Third Sunday after Easter (1714); the other cantatas are for Trinity XXI and Trinity I respectively.

 • HMC901594 : Christmas Cantatas (BWV122, 110 and 57) – Soloists, Collegium Vocale Gent – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library.

 • HMC901781 : Christmas Cantatas in Leipzig (BWV91, 121 and 133) – Soloists, Collegium Vocale Gent – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless). Also available as 2-CD set, HMC901781/82, with Cantata No.63 and Magnificat – download in mp3 from classicsonline.com or stream from Naxos Music Library

 • HMC901659 : Cantatas Nos. 8, 125 and 138 – Soloists, Collegium Vocale Gent – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library.

 • HMC901479 : Cantatas Nos. 43, 44 and 11 (Ascension Oratorio) – Soloists, Collegium Vocale Gent – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library.

 • HMC901969 : Cantatas Nos. 27, 84, 95 and 161 – Soloists, Collegium Vocale Gent – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library.

 • HMA1951328 : Cantatas Nos. 21 and 42 – Soloists, Collegium Vocale Gent – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library. Cantata No.42 is for Low Sunday (the first Sunday after Easter).

 • HMC901326 : Magnificat and Cantata No.80 (Reformation) – Soloists, Collegium Vocale Gent – from classicsonline.com (mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library.

I’ve highlighted the cantatas which are appropriate to Passiontide and Easter, with the intention of returning to look at some of the others in the future. Not all of those listed remain available on CD, though some have been gathered into inexpensive 3-disc sets.

There’s a real rarity in the form of Gioseffo Zamponi’s recently discovered opera Ulisse all’Isola di Circe (Ulysses on the Island of Circe, Brussels 1650): Cappella Mediterranea; Clematis; Chœur de Chambre de Namur/Leonardo García Alarcón (Ricercar RIC342 [137:30]). The first opera to be performed in the southern Netherlands – modern Belgium – it was written in the Italian style for a royal marriage, so there’s celebratory dance music at the end of Act I and start of Act II. The two CDs are housed in a lavishly illustrated hardback book containing text and translations. I’ve enjoyed this greatly and I shall certainly be returning to it. If you like Cavalli’s operas, you should enjoy it too.

The recording is bright to the extent of sounding slightly harsh, but that may be due to the low bit-rate of the review download. If you choose to download, go for the highest bit-rates on 7digital.com and classicsonline.com as listed below.

Amazon.co.uk will have this on disc from 21 April, 2014 but it’s available from outhere-music.com for 29 Euros – you’ll find a 32-minute video there. It’s available for download in 320kb/s mp3 from 7digital.com (£9.99, mp3 or m4a, no booklet) or classicsonline.com (£15.98, mp3, with booklet) or stream from Naxos Music Library. I really wouldn’t stint on paying for the de luxe booklet, either with the CDs or from classicsonline.com.

Finally, a recent recording from another independent label, not part of the Outhere group, Aparté (AP061, 2 CDs): Jean-Baptiste Lully’s opera Phaéton (1683) tells the story of the insolent pride of Phaëton, the son of the Sun God, his reckless ride across the heavens in his father’s chariot and his fall. That the performance is by Les Talens Lyriques and Christophe Rousset is almost recommendation in itself but you also have my word and that of Simon Thompson – review. Lully-lovers will have a field day and so should fans of Rameau – contemporaries had to take sides between the two but fortunately we no longer have to.

You’ll find purchase buttons for the CDs with Simon Thompson’s review. Download in mp3, 16- or 24-bit lossless from eclassical.com or stream from Naxos Music Library. There’s no booklet from any download source but a facsimile of the original score, complete with the de rigeur grovelling dedication to the King, Louis XIV, is available from imslp.




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