12 Nov 2015

Music and the Exotic from the Renaissance to Mozart.

Ralph P. Locke
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
April 2014.

Ralph Locke’s latest survey Music and the Exotic (2014) is essentially a prequel to his earlier Musical Exoticism (2009). Venturing backwards in time, this new volume explores how portrayals of the exotic and Otherness—or as cultural historians would have it, ‘alterity’—operated in music before the turquerie of the late 18th century.

Despite shifting to earlier times, Locke retains his core-concern for the completeness of musical performances. His study reaches beyond analysing harmonies or identifying folk-tune quotations; he considers as many facets of a performance as possible from costume, staging and instrumentation alongside social and political context. This approach he calls the “‘All the Music in Full Context’ paradigm for studying musical – or music-assisted – representations of exotic Others” and contrasts it with the “Exotic Style Only” paradigm more traditionally concerned with the contents of musical scores. And as with Musical Exoticism, this broad view allows for ambitious but nuanced explorations characteristic of post-Edward Said scholarship. Exoticism as explored by Locke thus ranges across a dazzling swathe of historical material from the appropriated dance styles of folk-culture to the choruses of Handel’s Old Testament oratorios.

For the full text of this article please visit: www.gramophone.co.uk
Gramophone November 15

Nicolas Gombert : Motets

BEAUTY FARM (Bart Uvyn [countertenor], Achim Schulz [tenor], Adriaan De Koster [tenor], Hannes Wagner [tenor], Joachim Höchbauer [bass], Martin Vögerl [bass])

Fra Bernardo FB 1504211

Nicolas Gombert (c.1495-1560) was a significant composer of the post-Josquin generation and a singer disgraced from the Emperor Charles V’s court chapel when accused of molesting a choirboy. Sentenced to the galleys he composed ‘swan songs’ which won him the emperor’s pardon. He is chiefly remembered for his 160+ motets, nineteen of which are handsomely represented on this double-album debut from the aptly named Beauty Farm.

For the full text of this review please visit: http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/gombert-motets
Gramophone November 2015

Brazilian Adventures

Ex Cathedra, Jeffrey Skidmore (conductor)
Hyperion CDA68114 

Jeffrey Skidmore is not the first musician to be charmed by the cultural riches and musical heritage of Brazil, and he won’t be the last, yet his visit has culminated in an unexpectedly touching and beautiful portrait of Brazilian early music that is sure to surprise even the most intrepid musical explorers. Brazilian Adventures is striking not only for its tender approach but also for the focus on later historical styles than one normally associates with these performers. The two masses are contemporary with late Haydn works and yet incorporate many late-baroque features whilst also harkening towards a softer, more intimate early-romantic sound. The movements of both masses are framed and separated by a selection of motets hinting at the huge variety of Brazilian music that still awaits modern performance.

 For the full text of this review please visit http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/brazilian-adventure

Gramophone November 2015