Biscuits & Bach is a four-hour program hosted by Rachel Stewart and featuring music from the Renaissance to the Baroque and beyond. Rachel welcomes the occasional guest and shares a recipe or two. It's food for the soul and soul food on a Sunday morning.
In the century before Bach was born, German composers were infatuated with and inspired by the experimental works of Italian composers, particularly the instrumental form, the sonata. The Germans wrote music with flamboyance and virtuosity that was unencumbered by vocals or words. Music writers of the day referred to this modern style as stylus fantasticus.
American early music ensemble, Quicksilver, has just released an album dedicated to this exciting time in music history entitled Fantasticus: Extravagant and Virtuosic Music of the German Seventeenth Century. It's our featured recording this week.
And WDAV's Frank Dominguez talks with conductor Gerard Schwarz and his cellist son Julian about baroque music and their favorite foods.
Bach’s contemporary, Arcangelo Corelli, was world famous in his own time. His music was loved from Russia to American where Thomas Jefferson was a fan. As popular as Corelli was, only a few of his original manuscripts survive.
Among those are the Violin Sonatas, Op. 5. These sonatas draw on dance rhythms and are playable on a variety of instruments besides the violin. They certainly suit the recorder as proven by renowned recorder player Michala Petri and harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani on their new album, Corelli La Follia. Listen for lively and lovely selections from it throughout the program this week.
This week, Rachel features a new release from the Anderson & Roe Piano Duo that showcases many styles of Bach. Pieces include The Art of Fugue, St. Matthew's Passion, and more. And Rachel chats with pianist Stephen Hough about his busy concert schedule, foods he's enjoyed around the world, and Twitter.
Very few original manuscripts from Bach have survived the centuries. Additionally, he was known to make arrangements and transcriptions of his own work to suit various instrumentations. So finding definitive versions of his works can prove difficult.
With this in mind, the ensemble Furor Musicus from the Netherlands has recorded an album called J.S. Bach: Reconstructions and Transcriptions for Strings. Much of the music on the recording will be recognizable to listeners, but the arrangements may offer a new perspective on a familiar piece. Listen for selections throughout the program this week.
December 21, 2014 Biscuits and Bach: Baroque for Christmas
Tune in for a special "Baroque for Christmas" edition of Biscuits and Bach. As part of this annual tradition, we'll feature the acclaimed Harmonia Mundi recording of the Academy for Ancient Music, Berlin, the RIAS Chamber Choir, and conductor Rene Jacobs performing Parts I and II of Bach's Christmas Oratorio.
We also hear selections for Advent and Christmas from Tallis, Purcell, Molter and other Baroque and Renaissance composers. And Robert Shaw leads the Atlanta Symphony and Chamber Chorus in Bach's Magnificat in D. Throughout the program, members of the WDAV staff share their special Christmas memories.
December 14, 2014 Biscuits and Bach
This week we get into the holiday spirit with Anonymous 4's album "Wolcum Yule - Celtic and British Carols and Songs." We'll hear traditional tunes from around the British Isles including a carol written by Henry VIII.
After guitarist Peter Blanchette spent a year learning to play the lute, he decided it just wasn't the right instrument for him. He enjoyed playing guitar, but the guitar wasn't capable of easily playing the renaissance and baroque music he loved. So Blanchette solved his problem by creating the archguitar which combined characteristics of a lute and a Spanish vihuela (an early guitar-like instrument.)
This week Peter Blanchette joins Rachel for an interesting chat about his unique instrument and the beautiful sounds it can make. We'll sample his Archguitar Christmas album, and you'll also find out what his wife makes for breakfast on Sunday mornings.
Many people are surprised to learn that Vivaldi wrote more concerti for bassoon than any other instrument besides violin. (37 complete, 2 fragments) But for whom did he write them? Was there a particular musician he had in mind? No one knows.
Nadina Mackie Jackson, a talented bassoonist from Canada, is on a mission to record all of the bassoon concerti, mysterious though they may be, and has recently released volume one of what promises to be a five album series. It's our featured recording this week on Biscuits and Bach.
Johann Friedrich Fasch was an exact contemporary of Bach, Handel and Telemann. He's not remembered with quite the same reverence as those classical music giants, but his music is still widely respected and played in modern times. He was esteemed in his own time as well, and you'll hear why when we feature the new recording of his quartets and concertos from Edinburgh's Ensemble Marsyas.
And Rachel talks with April McGreger, the author of a new book about the South's favorite vegetable, sweet potatoes. It's part of the UNC Press Savor the South Cookbook series. Find out why sweet potatoes have been so important to Southerners historically, and hear about the many innovative and unusual ways they can be prepared.
Vivaldi wrote only one double concerto for cellos, but many of his concerti lend themselves to this particular instrumentation. English cellist, Julian Lloyd Webber, has arranged several Vivaldi double concerti so that he and his cellist wife, JiaXin Lloyd Webber, can play these remarkable works together. They've just released an album of these specially arranged works, and we feature it this week.
And Rachel talks with Anne MacLeod of Auchtermuchty, Fife in Scotland about how to make proper scones and the merits of eating a good haggis.
Bach’s French Suites acquired their name after his death when a biographer described them as being written in the French style. That was partially true although today most scholars would argue that they incorporate more elements of the Italian style popular during the Baroque period. Russian-born American pianist Sergey Schepkin has recently released a recording of these suites as part of his quest to record all of Bach’s keyboard music playing a modern piano. We listen to some selections from it this week.
And Rachel travels to Inverness, Scotland and the kitchen of Karen and Ian Thomson to find out how Ian makes his delicious bacon rolls, a popular breakfast food in Scotland.
Although Vivaldi's music wasn't well-known until the 20th century and his Four Seasons wasn't recorded until 1950, you can hardly find a famous violinist today who hasn't made his or her own recording of these treasured concerti. Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto is the latest to contribute a Four Seasons album to the long list that already exist. Kuusisto is a classical music star in his home country, and he is gaining an international reputation. We'll hear how his interpretations of these favorite works compare to the many others that exist.