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26.9.14

Christopher Hogwood (1941-2014)

available at Amazon
Mozart, Exsultate, Jubilate


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Handel, Messiah


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Bach, Brandenburg Concertos


available at Amazon
Bach, Orchestral Suites
available at Amazon
Mozart, Coronation Mass / Vesperae Solennes de Confessore


available at Amazon
Mozart, Requiem Mass (ed. Maunder)


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Pergolesi, Stabat mater


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Pachelbel, Canon in D (inter alia)
Christopher Hogwood died on Wednesday, at the age of 73. The celebrated harpsichordist and conductor was on the cutting edge of the early music movement from the time of his work with David Munrow in the 1960s and 70s. After Munrow's tragic suicide, Hogwood's recordings with the renowned historically informed performance ensemble Academy of Ancient Music, especially those made in the 1980s, represented the state of the art in the field. I can clearly remember, in a record store in Ann Arbor, buying my first Hogwood recording, an LP of Mozart's Exsultate Jubilate and motets. It was unlike any Mozart recording I had ever heard, with this laser-voiced soprano named Emma Kirkby, and it reordered my teenage understanding of how to think about music composed before 1800.

This was in the day when one could spend hours looking through racks of records in an actual store, giving ones you wanted to buy a spin in the listening room. From that first hearing, my heart skipped a beat whenever one of those distinctive white L'Oiseau-Lyre jackets appeared in the rack, with the florid script and historical images, and I bought as many of them as I could afford. I wore out their recording of Bach's concertos for multiple harpsichords, featuring Christophe Rousset (now hard to find), long before I had ever heard a harpsichord played live. As a young choral singer taking part in over-boiled performances of choral masterpieces with a 200-voice choir and Romantically inclined orchestras, Hogwood's recordings helped cleanse my palate, questioning every assumption of mainstream musicians about these famous works. His ground-breaking Messiah; Mozart's Requiem (in the stripped-down edition by C.R.F. Maunder), Coronation Mass, Vesperae Solennes de Confessore; and even Pachelbel's misunderstood Canon in D became favorites.

Hogwood recorded many more recordings than are suggested here, but these are the ones that have stuck with me over the years. I admit that I never cared much for his interpretations of music any later than Mozart, but even after almost thirty years, his recordings of the Brandenburgs and the orchestral suites of Bach remain near the top of my list. I also admit that I find his choice of singers, other than the divine La Kirkby, to be often disappointing, although it was thanks to him that James Bowman made me believe that a countertenor could actually sound good, in their breathtaking recording of Pergolesi's Stabat mater. Embedded below, it seems like the perfect prayer to offer in memory of Christopher Hogwood.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The harpsichord concertos, and the Stabat Mater, are now in L'Oiseau Lyre's Baroque box released earlier this year. In fact, of 50 CDs in that box, 33 have the name Hogwood attached to them.
Jeffrey Smith