AAM at 40
We are delighted to release this limited edition CD to celebrate 40 years of the Academy of Ancient Music. We hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we have enjoyed the forty years of music making it represents.
The history of AAM is the history of a revolution. During the twentieth century, there were many attempts to look again at the way baroque and classical repertoire was presented at the time of its composition, and to explore the relevance of recreating this style for contemporary audiences. However, many of these experiments succumbed to the polar extremes of either austerity and earnestness or romanticism and lushness. Founding AAM in 1973, Christopher Hogwood took a different approach — an approach rooted in the combination of academic rigour and a desire for direct communication. From these bold initial steps Hogwood and AAM realised baroque and classical masterworks anew, their historically informed performances influencing profoundly the musical life of Europe and beyond.
In everything they did, Hogwood and the academy’s musicians aimed to recapture the intimacy, passion and vitality of music when it is first written. Through scholarship they developed a deep understanding of the music’s original context, through reducing the size of the orchestra they allowed each instrument to shine, restoring the original balance of sound. And through using instruments which were either originals or faithful copies they created a sound which is startling in its immediacy and clarity. Where possible, they also played from first edition scores, stripping away any later additions and returning faithfully to the composer’s original vision.
Alongside a busy concert schedule, Hogwood instituted a recording schedule that has seen the orchestra’s discography grow to over 300 discs. These recordings have been lauded by listeners and critics alike — many of them Brit and Grammy Award-winning. True to Hogwood’s original vision, these have also broken new ground.
Appropriately, disc 1 starts with the ensemble’s very first recording — an overture by Thomas Arne recorded in 1974 — and the compilation concludes with John Taverner’s Eternity’s Sunrise, which was written for AAM.
Joining the orchestra on these discs are outstanding artists who have frequently collaborated with AAM in performance and recording — singers Emma Kirkby (soprano), James Bowman (counter-tenor), Anthony Rolfe Johnson (tenor), Michael George (bass), Catherine Bott (soprano), Cecilia Bartoli (mezzo-soprano), Sarah Connolly (alto) and instrumentalists Gustav Leonhardt, Japp Schröder, Rachel Podger and Andrew Manze are featured — to name but a few. Fruits of the ongoing collaborations with the choirs of New College, Oxford, and King’s College, Cambridge also feature in this reflection of AAM at 40.
We hope you enjoy this CD – retrospective of the Academy of Ancient Music’s first forty years.