AAM SpotifySundays | with Heather Jarman

A weekly ‘concert’ taken from the finest recordings in the extensive Academy of Ancient Music catalogue: join us each Sunday at 3pm on Spotify as we unveil a new playlist of music, personally chosen by AAM players, directors, soloists and guests.

A truly special programme for 12 July 2020 on our #SpotifySundays playlist: AAM’s first General Manager and longtime colleague of Christopher Hogwood, Heather Jarman joins us to programme her selection of AAM favourites from the early discography. Heather’s choices highlight the recording activity from the first chamber albums to the landmark Messiah and Mozart Symphonies recordings.

‘I’ve chosen works recorded between 1976 and 1983, when I was the first General Manager of the band as well as Christopher Hogwood’s Personal Manager. I learned so much working with Christopher and tried to convey some of these things in the text to accompany each piece, along with the occasional amusing story of events behind the scenes. For me, compiling the playlist has been a nostalgic and revealing trip almost to the beginning of AAM. I had totally forgotten the astringent string tones of those days, and the excitement of hearing some of these works for the first time on period instruments. I hope you enjoy the concert as much as I enjoyed putting it together for you.’

Purcell, Oedipus Z.583: ‘Music for a While’
James Bowman, Christopher Hogwood

‘To begin at the beginning, when I first started running the AAM, most of our concerts consisted of chamber music. The most popular by far was ‘Homage to Henry Purcell’ in various guises. The group always included a singer, and James Bowman was not only a consummate musician, but one of the most delightful to work with.’

Edward Johnson, Eliza is the Fairest Queen
Thomas Tomkins, A Sad Pavan for these Distracted Times 

Paul Elliott, Christopher Hogwood

‘You may not know that Christopher Hogwood was not only a fine musician but also an accomplished author. John Letts, part owner of the Folio Society at the time, was a fan of Christopher’s music and commissioned him to write a book, Music at Court, and make an LP with the AAM. That was 1977 when many of our musicians came from viol consorts. To remind us of those early days I’ve chosen ‘Eliza is the Fairest Queen’ by Edward Johnson, with tenor Paul Elliott, and something that speaks to our current condition, ‘A sad pavan for these distracted times’ by Thomas Tomkins. It reminds me, as Paul Goodwin noted, what a fine keyboard player Christopher was.’

Geminiani, Concerto Grosso Op 3 No. 3
Christopher Hogwood

‘Christopher delighted in promoting neglected composers and their music. Corelli’s concerti grossi were played frequently even by modern instrument orchestras; Geminiani’s not at all. I’m fond of Geminiani because his father brought him for music lessons at Lucca (Tuscany), the nearest town to the village where I now live. There’s a statue of him in one of the piazzas, but otherwise he’s neglected here too, in Puccini’s birthplace.’

Handel, ‘No, di voi non vou’ fidarmi’ (Duetto XVI), HWV 189
Emma Kirkby, Judith Nelson, Susan Sheppard, Christopher Hogwood

‘Have you ever wondered why ‘For’ is emphasised in ‘For unto us a child is born’ from Messiah (up next)?. It makes no sense in English. The reason is simple. Handel borrowed the music from this secular love cantata he had written in 1741, the same year he began work on Messiah. The Italian means: ’No, I don’t want to trust myself to you / Blind Love, cruel Beauty / You too lying flattering Gods’. It makes perfect sense here to emphasise ‘No’. But with new text in a different language, one Handel was never entirely at home in, the word setting leaves something to be desired. Sublime nonetheless.’

Handel, Messiah, Part I: ‘For Unto Us A Child is Born’
Christopher Hogwood

‘I include this chorus not only for its musicological novelty, but also because, although I’d heard recordings of Messiah many times before and had been at some of our recording sessions, I remember the electrifying effect of hearing the AAM’s Messiah as a whole at our BBC Proms concert in 1979 during which I sat on the edge of my seat throughout the entire performance.’

Mozart, Symphony No. 21 in A Major, K.134
Jaap Schröder, Christopher Hogwood

‘By 1979 Christopher thought the band was ready to move forward to early classical repertoire. He asked Decca to record one LP of Mozart symphonies. A few days later they came back with an offer to record all of them. There were many new musicological and practical challenges. Neal Zaslaw, the musicologist for the project, advised a system of dual control: Jaap Schröder from the violin and Christopher from the harpsichord. Then there was the problem of woodwind tuning which required many takes to get it right. I compared it to running the 4-minute mile. As soon as someone did it, everyone could. No one had done it on classical oboes in those days.’

Haydn, Symphony No, 94 in G Major, Hob.1:94 ‘Surprise’
Christopher Hogwood

‘Christopher had such an affinity for Handel that I often joked he must be the reincarnation of that composer. But if not, then surely of Haydn. He rejoiced in the intellectual constructions strewn throughout Haydn’s works. Listen in the Andante to the eponymous surprise of the beat of the hard-headed stick on the skin of the small timpani, one of the many sounds we were hardly used to because the instrument had changed so much in the course of the 19th century.’

François Couperin, Trois Leçons de ténèbres: Troisième Leçon à deux voix
Motet pour le jour de Påques: Victoria Christo resurgenti 

Emma Kirkby, Judith Nelson, Jane Ryan, Christopher Hogwood

‘I end with Couperin’s Tenebrae. Recorded 1977 (released on LP 1978), it was one of the first recordings I organised with sopranos Judith Nelson and Emma Kirkby. Couperin wrote the three Leçons to be performed in Easter week during the dark time between the crucifixion of Christ and his resurrection, joyously evoked by the Motet ‘Victoria’. Christopher and I found a promoter in Paris who was keen on our idea of performing it in a nearly dark church, timed so that the third Leçon ended at midnight, at which point all the church candles would be lit and the Motet would be sung in glorious light. Having arrived in Paris the day before, Christopher left the music and his tails (as he used to wear in those days) locked in his car on the street. The next morning we discovered they had been stolen in the night. Getting the music in time for the performance was a logistical triumph. His passport was also in the car, but was untouched. We always suspected a dastardly rival band! I hope this music, leading us from darkness into light, will help us look forward from our dark Covid times to victory over the coronavirus and a joyous future. Hallelujah!’