Baroque organ works from Tyrolean sources
Musikmuseum 51 MMCD 13050. 65’29
In this recording, the prolific Innsbruck-based organist Peter Waldner plays two historic organs in the western part of the Italian South Tirol close to, and just over, the border with Switzerland. The choice of organs, and to an extent the music, is focussed on that region, not least because the nearby Benedictine Abbey of Marienberg contains the Tyrol’s only known copy of Georg Muffat’s 1690/1721 Apparatus musico-organisticus which forms the bulk of the CD.
The Brook Street Band
St John’s, Smith Square, 25 February 2018
With four concerts, a dance workshop and a talk spread over a weekend, the St John’s, Smith Square Muffat Festival focussed on Georg Muffat (1653-1704), that most innovative of composers, and the music that both influenced him and was, in turn, influenced by him. Curiously, of the 26 works played during the weekend, only six were actually by Muffat, a sadly missed opportunity to highlight more of his music, much of which is underperformed. The first concert (23 February) concentrated on the German Violin School, with pieces by Schmelzer, Biber and Krieger following the opening Muffat Sonata 2 from his 1682 Armonico Tributo. Dance was the focus of the second concert (24 February), with Muffat sharing the honours with Lully, Handel and Bach. The Italian Influence was explored in the first of two Sunday concerts (25 February), with pieces by Corelli and Handel and a Muffat Violin Sonata. The weekend finished with a focus on the Concerto, with more Bach and Handel along with Geminiani, all at least one generation younger that Muffat. It concluded with Muffat’s Sonata No. 5 in G from Armonico Tributo with its extraordinary extended concluding Passacaglia – one of the highlights of Muffat’s orchestral output. Continue reading
Georg Muffat: Missa in Labore Requies
Church Sonatas by Bertali, Schmelzer, Biber
Cappella Murensis, Les Cornets Noirs, Johannes Strobl
Audite 97.539. 71’36
Muffat: Missa in Labore Requies; Bertali: Sonata a 13, Sonata Sancti Placidi a 14; Biber: Sonata VI a 5, Sonata VIII a 5; Schmelzer: Sonata XII a 7;
Georg Muffat is one of the most interesting composers of the high Baroque period, not least because of his ability to combine musical genres from many different countries. Born in Savoy, he studied with Lully in Paris before becoming organist in Strasbourg Cathedral before moving to Vienna, Prague and then Salzburg, where he worked with Biber in the court of the Prince Archbishop. After further study in Rome he moved to Passau. It was there that we find the first mention of the monumental Missa in Labore Requies, Muffat’s only surviving sacred work. The score came into Haydn’s hands, passing on his death into the Esterházy archives and final to the National Library in Budapest.
Until 1991 it was almost completely ignored, with doubt as whether Muffat was the composer, and the reason for its composition is still in doubt. Continue reading
Early Opera Company, Christian Curnyn, Sophie Bevan
St John’s, Smith Square. 18 March 2016
Handel: Concerto Grosso Op6/10, Silete Venti; Wassenaer: Concerto 5 from Concerti Armonici; Biber: Battalia a 10; Muffat: Concerto 5 from Armonico Tributo
The players of the Early Opera Company, directed by Christian Curnyn, stepped out of their more usual orchestra pit for an almost instrumental evening of music making at St John’s, Smith Square, with music generally representing the Concerto Grosso format.
Their final work was one of the first examples, albeit billed under the more innocent name of Sonata, with the fifth sonata from Georg Muffat’s Armonico Tributo. These pieces were rehearsed in Corelli’s house during Muffat’s trip to Rome, and were clearly influenced by Corelli’s music and the Italian style. Muffat later spent time with Lully in Paris, and developed a skill in writing music in the French style, before combining the two. But even before then, in this early Italian work, he concludes with a very French Passagaglia, with its distinctive repeated phrases and the use of the opening passage as a refrain, with its lovely little violin motif of rising triplets. In the opening Allemanda we hear a foretaste (or should I say, forehear) of a similar swirling violin motif. With frequent passages for a trio of two violins and cello, set against the full orchestra, this was a Concerto Grosso in all but name. Continue reading
Organ Music before Bach
1736 Johann Jakob Hör organ, Pfarrkirche St. Katharina,Wolfegg, Germany
Deutsche Harmonia Mundi – Sony Music 8843040912. 78’37
Pachelbel Toccata in D Minor, Ciacona in D Minor, Fantasia in D Major (ex E-Flat Major), Vom Himmel hoch, da komm’ ich her, Toccata in G Minor, Ciacona in G Minor (ex F Minor), Fantasia in C Major, Toccata in C Major, Prelude in E Minor, Fugue in E Minor; Muffat Toccata prima, Ciacona in G Major, Toccata decimal; Fischer Ricercar pro Festis Pentecostalibus, Chaconne in F Major, Rigaudon & Rigaudon double, Passacaglia in D Minor; Kerll Passcaglia in D Minor; Froberger Ricercar in D Minor, FbWV 411, Canzon in G Major, FbWV 305, Meditation faist sur ma Mort future laquelle se joue lentement avec discretion, FbWV 611a
Despite the all-encompassing title of this CD, the focus is on German organ music before Bach and, more specifically, South German and Austrian music. The opening piece is by Pachelbel, an organist composer raised in the strict Lutheran tradition. But the Italian influence is immediately apparent. Like so many other Continue reading