Spiritual and secular baroque rarities by Schmelzer and Biber
Les Passions de l’Ame, Meret Lüthi
Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 19439763522. 62’05
Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber (1644–1704)
Psalm 127: Nisi Dominus aedificaverit domum;
Psalm 22: Laetatus sum;
Rosary Sonata No. 16 Guardian Angel;
Partitas No. 2 & 7 from Harmonia artificiosa-ariosa
Johann Heinrich Schmelzer (c. 1623–80)
Sonatas No. 7 & 8 from Sacro-profanus concentus musicus
Following previous recordings in their Biber-Schmelzer-Fux series (Spicy, Schabernack and Variety), this new CD from the Bern-based early music group Les Passions de l’Ame focusses again on the music of Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber (1644–1704) and Johann Heinrich Schmelzer (c1623–1680), completing their recording of all the Biber trio sonatas from his Harmonia Artificiosa-Ariosa. As well as the instrumental pieces they also include two Biber vocal works.
Ensemble Libro Primo
Sabine Stoffer & Alex McCartney
Veterum Musica VM018. 50’53
G. B. Viviani: Sonata Prima
N. Matteis: Passaggio Rotto
B. Marini: Sonata Quarta ‘Per sonar con due Corde’
G. G. Kapsberger: Preludes, Toccatas, Gagliarda, Corrente, Passacaglia
G. A. Pandolfi Mealli: Sonata Seconda ‘La Cesta’
H. I. F. Biber: Sonata IV ‘Darstellung im Tempel’
This impressive recording by Ensemble Libro Primo (Sabine Stoffer & Alex McCartney) features 17th-century music for violin and theorbo written in the Stylus Phantasticus: a style described by Johann Mattheson as “sometimes agitated, sometimes hesitant, sometimes one- and sometimes many-voiced; often also shortly after the beat: without rhythm; but not without the intention to please, to rush nor to amaze.” This seemingly anarchic compositional style was a major influence on Italian and German composers of the period, its rapid changes of mood, pulse and metre creating an almost operatic sense of drama. As the programme note describes, this style was “a natural conveyance of a highly elaborate improvisatory performance practice“. That sense of improvisatory performance infuses these performances with drama and excitement. One example is the solo violin Passagio Rotto by N. Matteis. Matteis was praised by Roger North for his “eloquent, expressive style“: words that accurately describe Sabine Stoffer’s own delightful playing. Continue reading
Schabernack: A treasure trove of musical jokes
Les Passions de l’Ame, Meret Lüthi
Deutsche Harmonia Mundi. 88985415492. 56’46
Music by Fux, Schmeltzer, Biber, and Walther
Schabernack translates as ‘prank, practical joke, hoax or shenanigans’, and the underlying theme of this CD by the impressive group Les Passions de l’Ame emphasises that aspect of the musical world of the Austrian and Hungarian Empires during the Baroque period. The CD cover promises “Characters from the commedia dell’arte, playful birds, an astonishing virtuosity and a colourful instrumentation – the vivid imagination in late 17th century Austrian-German instrumental music loves to surprise”. But humour is only part of the inspiration for this recording. At the time, these Hapsburg domains were part of the defence of Europe from attacks from the east by the Ottoman Empire. Ottoman influence was spreading into Viennese life and music, with Turkish, or Janissary, music and instruments becoming part of the musical language of the time. Continue reading
Les Voyages de l’Amour
Music by Boismortier, Rebel, Corrette
Chaconne CHAN 0812. 57’39
Boismortier: Simphonie pour l’arrivée des Génies Elémentaires (Les Voyages de l’Amour ); Premier ballet de Village, Op. 52; Sonata, Op. 14/3; Concerto a 5, Op. 37; Sonata a trois parties, Op. è37/4.
Corrette: Concerto comique VI: ‘Le Plaisir des Dames’.
Rebel: Les Caractères de la Danse; Sonate Sixiéme.
Boismortier’s 1736 opéra-ballet, Les Voyages de l’Amour tells of the journey of Love in his quest to find a pure heart that will love him sincerely and without ulterior motive, having tired of making others happy without finding that happiness himself. Having searched through towns, villages and the royal court, he eventually finds his true love in the person of the shepherdess Daphné. In this glittering programme, Ensemble Meridiana take a similar journey through Baroque France in a musical search for that elusive true love, travelling through similar setting to those of Boismortier’s Amour, concluding with Michel Corrette’s ‘Amusing and Highly Entertaining’ wedding feast.
Boismortier’s music makes up the bulk of the CD, starting with the multi-sectional Simphonie pour l’arrivée des Génies Elémentaires, Continue reading