Music reviews for music published in the 1740s.
1. Johann Sebastian Bach: The Goldberg Variations BWV 988 (10/10)
I have only ever heard both of Gould’s interpretations, which would be on my Desert Island list, but this is one of the great keyboard variation works – perhaps the greatest depending on what you think of Beethoven’s. Like so much Bach, once I heard this I couldn’t imagine my life without it.
2. Johann Sebastian Bach: Mass in B minor BWV 232 (10/10)
I know a guy who thinks this is one of the greatest compositions in music history and it turns out this is a very popular opinion. But it’s so immense and so dense that I love other works of his much more, just because I can get into them much easier. I know that’s not an excuse.
3. George Friedrich Handel: Belshazzar (10/10)
Though one of the least well know of Handel’s oratorios, Belshazzar is, to me, the granddaddy of them all.
This thing is immense and gorgeous and full of passages to force me to rethink Handel. Parts of it almost sound modern, which just speaks to how much future opera composers owe Handel. ‘Epic’ is probably the only modern word which can give you a sense of the sheer scale of this thing. At times, while listening to it, I am at a loss for words, something which usually only Bach, of baroque composers, does to me.
Just a monumentally impressive work and, for me, the easy superior to the more famous oratorios.
4. Johann Sebastian Bach: Concerto for two Harpsichords BWV 1060 (10/10)
5. Johann Sebastian Bach: Preludes and Fugues, and Fantasias of the 1740s (10/10)
6. Georg Friedrich Handel: Messiah (9/10)
7. Georg Friedrich Handel: Solomon (9/10)
This is a pretty magnificent oratorio that might best be described by the word sumptuous. Though only a small part of it was semi-familiar to me before hearing it, I think this is probably the greatest thing of Handel’s I have encountered to date. It certainly feels much more musically complex than most of his other stuff, which has always struck me as being Baroque-light. I am a big fan of this and it is causing me to rethink his work.
8. Georg Friedrich Handel: Music for the Royal Fireworks (8/10)
Music for the Royal Fireworks is something I don’t think I’ve heard before (except for one movement), and it strikes me as definitely a more mature work than Water Music.
But, that being said, I enjoy the other work much more.