Star tenor Andrew Kennedy is accompanied by Southbank Sinfonia in this collection of arias by three unique Classical-era composers. This disc showcases some of the best in young British musical talent, with rising star tenor Andrew Kennedy and Southbank Sinfonia, conducted by Simon Over. Their programme explores three phases of the Classical era, with early arias from Gluck, later classical works by Mozart, and the beginnings of Romanticism with Berlioz. Andrew’s previous releases have been greeted with exceptionally good reviews from music magazines and national newspapers and we have every confidence his latest release will be as successful.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose actual name is Joannes Chrysotomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was a composer, pianist, violinist and conductor from the classical period, born in Salzburg. Mozart was a child prodigy. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. Along with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven, Mozart is considered to be one of the most influential composers of all of music's history. Within the classical tradition, he was able to develop new musical concepts which left an everlasting impression on all the composers that came after him. Together with Joseph Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven he is part of the First Viennese School. At 17, Mozart was engaged as a musician at the Salzburg court, but grew restless and traveled in search of a better position. From 1763 he traveled with his family through all of Europe for three years and from 1769 he traveled to Italy and France with his father Leopold after which he took residence in Paris. On July 3rd, 1778, his mother passed away and after a short stay in Munich with the Weber family, his father urged him to return to Salzburg, where he was once again hired by the Bishop. While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed from his Salzburg position. He chose to stay in the capital, where he achieved fame but little financial security. During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas, and portions of the Requiem, which was largely unfinished at the time of his death.
Hector Berlioz is perhaps the most romantic of the romantics. His continuously changing moods split the traditional symphony orchestra into countless divisions, and his idealistic longing faded the borders between symphony, opera and oratoria. No wonder that this revolutionary expression gained little appreciation in its own time. The public of that age had barely overcome Beethoven's innovations. Reciprocally, Berlioz resented the audience and its conventions of the prevailing concert practice. In one of his writings, Berlioz dreamed of a Utopian city called Euphonia, in which commerce was banned and the arts stood at the centre of civilisation. It wasn't until after his death that Berlioz gained the recognition he deserves. The most music lovers will know Berlioz from his Symphonie Fantastique, in which he portrayed several opium visions. With this out of control 'bad trip', he tried to win over the famous Shakespeare actress Harriet Smithson. Some other highlights of his career are his epic opera La Damnation de Faust, his symphony Roméo et Juliette, his Requiem and the opera Les Troyens.
Christopj Willibald Gluck was born in 1714 in Erasbach, Bavaria. At a young, he was already determined to become a professional musician, but his father, a forester, was against this. So much even that Gluck decided to run away from home to move to Prague. There, he immersed himself into the local music scene and advanced as a self-educated chamber musician to work for the nobility.
His first opera Artaserse (1741) was a major success, which allowed Gluck to travel throughout Europe to work as an independent musician and composer of Italian opera seria. He married to the daughter of a well-established salesman en settled in Vienna in 1752 where he foumd himself in a circle of poets, composers and choreographers led by Count Giacomo Durazzo.
During this period, Gluck started to focus on French opéra comique and ballet. He wrote the music for the revolutionary Don Juan and in 1762, he composed his Orfeo ed Euridice, the first of three operas in which he broke with the conventions of Italian opera seria: the music had to be in the service of the drama, and not of the vain singers. Finally, Gluck was able to give a new impulse to the French tragédie lyrique in Paris (with operas such as his Iphigénie and Tauride). Gluck died in 1787 in Vienna of a stroke. He wasn't a great revolutionary composer, but he surely influenced Mozart, and later even Berlioz and Wagner.