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What is Classical Music?

The term “classical music” has been applied to a range of music from different cultures, and gradually came to mean “authentic” or “principal.” In Western European music, it is distinguished from “popular” music, although history has shown that popular and classical forms were once closely woven together and to some extent, still are. Classical music has also developed its own conventional history, which unfolds over a series of periods including the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Baroque, the Enlightenment or Classical (with a capital “C”), and the Romantic, Modern, and Contemporary eras, each of which evolved characteristic styles and forms. Whichever way we approach them, each of these periods also reveals its own particular beauty. This series of compilations invites the listener to savor salient examples of works penned by composers from the Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern eras and gleaned from Analekta’s impressive roster of performers.

The Renaissance

The term “Renaissance” was first coined in 1855 by the French historian Jean Michelet, and literally means “rebirth.” In music, it denotes the era from about 1400 to 1600 when the philosophical and artistic values of classical Greek and Roman Antiquity were revived and combined with new attitudes and beliefs resulting from geographical discoveries and accelerated changes in almost all sectors of learning. Like Antiquity which inspired it, the Renaissance is looked upon as a Golden Age of progress in all areas of cultural activities.
During this period, musicians traveled and migrated within Europe with increasing freedom. They rejected medieval rhythmic and modal systems, began to develop harmony and to introduce modulation in their works. Expressivity played an increasingly significant role and new relationships between music and words were established. Singers and instrumentalists were becoming more “professional” and their virtuoso performances initiated a separation, more decisively felt during the later Baroque period, between vocal and instrumental music. Finally, musicians began to repudiate the authority and social order imposed by older forms of artistic patronage. Thus all the conditions were ripe for a radical departure from the older medieval scholasticism.

The present recording will provide the listener with significant examples of Renaissance vocal and instrumental music, sacred and secular, composed by a vast array of composers from the great Northern European, English, and Italian schools. The Renaissance was an age of experimentation, of great vitality and diversity of forms, which this recording also reflects.

© Guy Marchand
Translation: Peter Christensen

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AN 2 9927-8
AN 2 9927-8
AN 2 9927-8
AN 2 9927-8

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