Armand-Louis Couperin

Dynasties in music are not uncommon but the Couperin family was perhaps France’s most firmly rooted. Unlike the Bachs, though, they did not spread out across the country but cemented themselves in position at one Parisian church for a century and three-quarters; St. Gervais, on the right bank of the Seine, close to the Hotel de la Ville and the river itself…

Harp Meets Piano

This is one of those discs that really should not work but most emphatically does. It would be easy for the piano to drown out the harp constantly but the blend is well handled by the engineer in Paris…

Strozzi

This set of cantatas and arias date from 1664 when Barbara Strozzi was in her mid forties and stylistically moving away from the first flush of the baroque towards freer dramatic expression. Sadly they are the last works we can be certain are by her, though she lived for another 13 years…

Elgar

Sea Pictures has endured for more than a century as the most loved orchestral song cycle in English music and perhaps the only one that appeals consistently to continental audiences, so it is not as surprising as it might be to have two new recordings in as many months…

Beethoven

Lucy Russell is more usually heard these days as the first violin of the Fitzwilliam Quartet so it’s good to hear her solo and in period instrument guise – she’s also Professor of baroque violin at the RCM. There is an awful lot right with this recording of early sonatas. Their essential domesticity comes through in the balance between the period instruments; nobody is trying to project to the back of a concert hall, just to somewhere the other side of the drawing room in a modest aristocratic mansion. Russell and Seskir are crisp with the music but do not bully it…

Vaughan Williams

Job, apart from being a marvellous score and equally marvellous piece of storytelling, is a much more important work than its relatively rare performances suggest. Between 1927 and 1930 it brought together some of the most fascinating people in the artistic life of Britain. The idea for the masque came from Geoffrey Keynes, John Maynard’s brother, who had been buying up copies of William Blake’s works since he was a student in the early years of last century…