WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

The Trio Sonata In 17th Century Germany - London Baroque


Release Date: 05/27/2008 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 1545   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Johann VierdanckNicolaus à KempisJohann Heinrich SchmelzerDietrich Becker,   ... 
Performer:  Ingrid SeifertCharles MedlamRichard GwiltTerence Charlston
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Baroque
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  
On sale! $21.99
CD:  $17.99
In Stock
MP3: $9.99
What's this?




Notes and Editorial Reviews

One of the best recordings of German chamber music of the 17th century.

The title of this disc should be taken with a grain of salt. As the track-list shows London Baroque has included pieces by composers who are Austrian rather than German. And even when 'German' is interpreted as 'German-speaking' this doesn't explain the inclusion of two pieces by composers from the Southern Netherlands. To say, as does Charles Medlam in the booklet, that the idiom of their music is such that they fit into this programme seems a shade far-fetched.

In his programme notes Charles Medlam refers to the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) as an event which had a very damaging effect on the state of the arts in Germany. The most
Read more famous German composer of the 17th century, Heinrich Schütz, described its effect this way: "Among the other free arts the noble art of music has not only suffered great decline in our beloved fatherland as a result of the ever-present dangers of war; in many places it has been wholly destroyed, lying amid the ruins and chaos for all to behold." The war had taken away most of the financial resources which otherwise would have been spent on art, and musicians had died as a direct or indirect effect of the war. But although much financial effort was required to restore the economy after the Peace of Westfalia in 1648 it is remarkable how quickly the arts rose up "by God's grace to their former dignity and value", as Schütz put it. He and many other composers started to write music again, from sacred music in large scoring to chamber music for small ensembles. It is this kind of music which is presented here.

Most music dates from the second half of the 17th century, reflecting the resurrection of music from the ruins of the war. But the programme begins with a suite by Vierdanck, which is the earliest music on the disc. The booklet doesn't give the source, but I assume it comes from Vierdanck's first publication, Erster Theil newer Pavanen, which dates from 1637. In this collection the dances are grouped in suites according to key. Vierdanck was one of the first German composers to follow the Italian model of the trio texture - as this suite shows. Stylistically it is still very much like the dance music of the late renaissance, and Vierdanck was also influenced by the English consort music, which was brought to Northern Germany by, in particular, William Brade.

The rest of the programme shows an increasing influence of the Italian style in Germany. That is not surprising: a number of Italian musicians had travelled north to look for employment, like Bertali, Turini, Farina and Buonamente. Some German composers went to Italy to get acquainted with the newest fashion in music, like Kerll. But even when a composer never set a foot in Italy, like Matthias Weckman, it was no problem to learn the Italian style, through the presence of Italian musicians as well as through the many manuscripts and prints which circulated through the continent.

In the pieces by Dietrich Becker and Matthias Weckmann, both working in and around Hamburg, we find the influence of the 'stylus phantasticus', which is so characteristic of North-German organ music, and which in itself is influenced by the Italian style. They, like Dietrich Buxtehude, were able to merge the Italian style with the traditional German preference for counterpoint.

The most 'Italianate' composer in the programme is probably Johann Rosenmüller, who worked in Leipzig, but escaped to Italy when he was imprisoned for a sexual offence. Here he fully embraced the theatrical style of the Italians, as his Sonata in e minor shows. This sonata, from a collection of 12 sonatas which was printed in 1682, is passionate and expressive, but at the same time pays tribute to the German tradition. The 'gravity' which Heinrich Schütz considered a typical feature of German music, is certainly present in this sonata. The second movement, largo, which is repeated at the end, is in my opinion one of the most beautiful pieces ever written. It is a fugue, whose subject you just won't forget once you have heard it.

The composers from the south of Germany and from Austria were often surrounded by Italian musicians, and that had a strong influence on their own compositions, like those of Johann Heinrich Schmelzer who himself never went to Italy. Johann Caspar Kerll, on the other hand, went to Rome to study with Carissimi. Here he also became acquainted with the keyboard music of Girolamo Frescobaldi.

The German-speaking regions in Europe were considered a centre of violin virtuosity. When the German composer Nicolaus Adam Strungk travelled to Rome he met Arcangelo Corelli. When the Italian asked him if he played the violin he replied that he did so reasonably well. As he played Corelli was astonished: "Sir, if I am called Arcangelo, you should be called Arcidiavolo". Strungk was just one of the representatives of the 'German' violin school. Biber - who worked in Olmütz (today in the Czech Republic) and Salzburg - is another one, many of whose works reflect his own astonishing virtuosity. In his collection 'Harmonia artificiosa-ariosa' (1696) he included seven partitas in different tunings for the two upper parts. The Partita VI is the only one without 'scordatura'.

The odd ones out in this programme are the pieces by two composers from the Southern Netherlands. Nicolaus à Kempis was from Brussels and acted as organist there. He published a series of collections with 'Symphoniae', rather unpretentious pieces aimed at domestic use. This doesn't hold him back, though, from writing a piece with the subtitle 'Dolorosa' whose main features are chromatically falling lines. Hacquart was a gambist by education, born in Brughes, but moving to Amsterdam in the early 1670s. The sonata played here comes from a collection of ten sonatas in three or four parts. It hasn't that much in common with the German music on this disc. It is more Italian in style than the pieces by most German composers, more melodious and lacking the German 'gravity'.

Most music played here requires technical virtuosity but also a good feeling for the specific features of German music. Over the years I have heard too many recordings which don't really explore the depth and the strongly rhetorical character of this repertoire. But London Baroque has much experience in this field, in particular its first violinist, Ingrid Seifert. Some people will not immediately appreciate the somewhat sharp and penetrating sound of the violins, especially that of Ingrid Seifert, and I would advise turning down the volume a little, particularly when you listen though headphones.

However the interpretations in many ways offer what this repertoire requires. There is a good sense of the gravity in this music, but its brighter side comes through equally well. Sometimes I find the articulation not sharp enough, and I would have liked to hear stronger dynamic differences, for instance between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ notes. The largo from Rosenmüller's sonata, which I already have referred to, is a good example. I have to admit that ever since I heard Musica Antiqua Köln in this repertoire - unfortunately disbanded a couple of years ago - I have found it difficult to appreciate any other recording. That ensemble's performances of this repertoire were close to ideal, and they are difficult to match – as Bis have found.

Despite a few reservations this disc is admirable. Currently it is one of the best available to represent German chamber music of the 17th century.

-- Johan van Veen, MusicWeb International
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Suite in A major by Johann Vierdanck
Performer:  Ingrid Seifert (Violin), Charles Medlam (Bass Viola da gamba), Richard Gwilt (Violin),
Terence Charlston (Harpsichord), Terence Charlston (Chamber Organ)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Baroque
Period: Baroque 
2.
Sinfonia dolorosa by Nicolaus à Kempis
Performer:  Ingrid Seifert (Violin), Charles Medlam (Bass Viola da gamba), Richard Gwilt (Violin),
Terence Charlston (Chamber Organ), Terence Charlston (Harpsichord)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Baroque
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Brussels, Belgium 
3.
Sonata a 3 "Lanterly" by Johann Heinrich Schmelzer
Performer:  Ingrid Seifert (Violin), Charles Medlam (Bass Viola da gamba), Richard Gwilt (Violin),
Terence Charlston (Chamber Organ), Terence Charlston (Harpsichord)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Baroque
Period: Baroque 
Written: 17th Century; Austria 
4.
Erster Theil zweystimmiger Sonaten und Suiten: Suite in A major by Dietrich Becker
Performer:  Ingrid Seifert (Violin), Charles Medlam (Bass Viola da gamba), Richard Gwilt (Violin),
Terence Charlston (Chamber Organ), Terence Charlston (Harpsichord)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Baroque
Period: Baroque 
5.
Sonate (12) à 2-5 stromenti: no 2 in E minor by Johann Rosenmüller
Performer:  Ingrid Seifert (Violin), Charles Medlam (Bass Viola da gamba), Richard Gwilt (Violin),
Terence Charlston (Harpsichord), Terence Charlston (Chamber Organ)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Baroque
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1682 
6.
Sonata à 3 in G major by Matthias Weckmann
Performer:  Ingrid Seifert (Violin), Charles Medlam (Bass Viola da gamba), Richard Gwilt (Violin),
Terence Charlston (Chamber Organ), Terence Charlston (Harpsichord)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Baroque
Period: Baroque 
Written: 17th Century; Germany 
7.
Sonatas (10) "Harmonia Parnissia": Sonata no 6 in D major by Matthias Weckmann
Performer:  Ingrid Seifert (Violin), Charles Medlam (Bass Viola da gamba), Richard Gwilt (Violin),
Terence Charlston (Chamber Organ), Terence Charlston (Harpsichord)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Baroque
Period: Baroque 
8.
Trio Sonata for 2 Violins and Basso Continuo in F major by Johann Kaspar Kerll
Performer:  Terence Charlston (Harpsichord), Ingrid Seifert (Violin), Charles Medlam (Bass Viola da gamba),
Richard Gwilt (Violin), Terence Charlston (Chamber Organ)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Baroque
Period: Baroque 
Written: 17th Century; Germany 
9.
Harmonia artificiosa-ariosa: Partita no 6 for 2 Violins and Basso Continuo by Heinrich Ignaz Biber
Performer:  Terence Charlston (Harpsichord), Terence Charlston (Chamber Organ), Ingrid Seifert (Violin),
Richard Gwilt (Violin), Charles Medlam (Bass Viola da gamba)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Baroque
Period: Baroque 
Written: 17th Century; Bohemia 
10.
Trio Sonata for 2 Violins, Viola da Gamba and Basso Continuo in G major, BuxWV 271 by Dietrich Buxtehude
Performer:  Terence Charlston (Harpsichord), Terence Charlston (Chamber Organ), Charles Medlam (Bass Viola da gamba),
Richard Gwilt (Violin), Ingrid Seifert (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Baroque
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 

Sound Samples

Suite in A major: I. Pavan
Suite in A major: II. Gagliarda
Suite in A major: III. Ballo
Suite in A major: IV. Correnta
Symphony No. 2, "Dolorosa"
Sonata a 3, "Lanterly": Lanterly (Sonate a 3)
Sonata No. 26 in A major: Sonata and Suite:
Sonata in E minor: I. Grave
Sonata in E minor: II. Largo
Sonata in E minor: III. Adagio
Sonata in E minor: IV. Adagio
Sonata in E minor: V. Largo
Sonata in G major
Sonata in D minor, Op. 2, No. 6: I. Allegro
Sonata in D minor, Op. 2, No. 6: II. Adagio
Sonata in D minor, Op. 2, No. 6: III. Adagio
Sonata in D minor, Op. 2, No. 6: IV. Adagio
Sonata in D minor, Op. 2, No. 6: V. Grave - Allegro
Sonata in D minor, Op. 2, No. 6: VI. Canzona: Vivace - Adagio
Sonata in D minor, Op. 2, No. 6: VII. Aria: Vivace
Sonata in G major, BuxWV 271: Allegro -
Sonata in G major, BuxWV 271: Violino 1 solo: Adagio - Allegro - Adagio - 12/16 -
Sonata in G major, BuxWV 271: Adagio a 3 -
Sonata in G major, BuxWV 271: Allegro -
Sonata in G major, BuxWV 271: Violino 2 solo: Adagio - Allegro
Trio Sonata in F major
Harmonia artificiosa-ariosa: Partia No. 6 in D major: I. Praeludium: Adagio - Allegro
Harmonia artificiosa-ariosa: Partia No. 6 in D major: II. Aria con variato
Harmonia artificiosa-ariosa: Partia No. 6 in D major: III. Finale: Adagio - Allegro

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook




YOU MUST BE A SUBSCRIBER TO LISTEN - TRY IT FREE!
Listen to all your favorite classical music for only $20/month.
Sign up for your monthly subscription service and get unlimited access to the most comprehensive digital catalog of classical music in the world - new releases. bestsellers, advanced releases and more.
Aleady a subscriber? Sign In