The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields has announced that Sir Neville Marriner has died. We almost had the honor of hearing him conduct the San Diego Symphony in January of 2015 but the venerable Marriner was forced to cancel due to health reasons.
There can be no mistaking Sir Neville’s legacy. It has been preserved in the form of The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and on hundreds upon hundreds of recordings spanning four decades.
Cosi Fan Tutte
Marriner founded the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields in 1958. The name of the orchestra is taken from the iconic church, St. Martin in the Fields which is located on Trafalgar Square in Westminster, London.
Marriner and the Academy took a more or less conventional approach to music. They used modern instruments but did tend toward smaller ensembles and blistering tempi in music from the 17th and 18th centuries.
When the “period-music” aesthetic began to rise Marriner wasn’t interested. He referred to it's advocates as, “the open-toed-sandals and brown-bread set,” according The New York Times.
To the classical dilettante, Marriner and The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields will always be associated with Mozart. Why?
They provided the soundtrack to the movie Amadeus. The album sold of 6.5 million copies and won a grammy.
Slipped Disc has listed 10 essential recordings by Marriner. I found The Argo Years to be the most expedient way to enjoy a wide range of music recorded by this prolific partnership.
Although, Marriner’s recording of Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte is unsurpassed. Certainly Marriner is a big part of that but the cast of singers is ideal. The entire recording is on YouTube.