Kress: Violin Concertos from the Darmstadt court

Kress: Violin Concertos from the Darmstadt court
Johannes Pramsohler, Darmstadt Baroque Soloists
Audax ADX13716. 68’07

Georg Philipp Telemann: Concerto For Violin And Trumpet
Johann Jakob Kress: Violin Concerto In C Minor
Johann Friedrich Fasch: Violin Concerto In D Major
Johann Jakob Kress: Violin Concerto In C Major

Johann Samuel Endler: Orchestra Suite With Obligato Violin

Johannes Pramsohler continues his imaginative exploration of the lesser-known byways of the Baroque violin repertoire with this evocation of musical life in early 18th-century Darmstadt. The new young Landgrave, Ernst Ludwig, focussed his attention on the musical life of his Court, continuing the work of his mother who, as Regent during his minority, had encouraged the Court orchestra to adopt the fashionable French style. Ernst Ludwig engaged Graupner to develop the Italian style, leading to a distinctive ‘mixed German’ style, championed in this recording by the composer and Court concertmaster Johann Jakob Kress.

Two of Kress’s violin concertos are included, (Op1: 2&6), both attractive and musically intelligent works showing the influence of Vivaldi, notably in the sensuous Adagio of Op.1:2. The grandeur of the Darmstadt orchestra is demonstrated in Fasch’s powerful Concerto in D, for violin, 3 trumpets, oboes, bassoon, and strings, it’s ebullient style in contrast to Kress’s pieces. The final piece is Johann Samuel Endler’s dramatic Ouverture, an orchestral suite for full orchestra with three trumpets and obligato violin. The opening Ouverture which gives the piece its title is followed by a sequence of five dances, to which Pramsohler adds two further movements from another suite, including the lively La Brouillerie. Endler was a successor to Kress as concertmaster in Darmstadt, having moved from Leipzig to join the Court orchestra.

The only piece on this recording that isn’t a world premiere recording is the opening Telemann Concerto in D TWV 53:D5, for trumpet, violino concerto, violoncello obligato, strings and basso continuo. Even in the elevated company of such an acknowledged master as Telemann, the music of Kress, Fasch and Endler hold their own well. The playing from Pramsohler and the Darmstadt Baroque Soloists is outstanding. The CD includes information programme notes in English, German, French, and Japanese.