Notes and Editorial Reviews
Dialogus von der Geburt Christi.
Jürgen Ochs (ten, cond); Rastatter Hofkapelle (period instruments)
CARUS 83.417 (45:00
Text and Translation)
The appearance of a new recording of the works of Reinhard Keiser is for me a cause of rejoicing. The high quality of the operas that have been recorded gives testimony of a composer near the top rank of Baroque composers. This is my first
encounter with one of Keiser’s religious works, and the
confirms the high opinion I hold of his ability.
, written for performance in a Hamburg concert hall in 1707, survives only in a revised version, including the addition of chorales, and probably dates from Keiser’s period as Cathedral choirmaster. While the work is recognizably in the tradition of the north German cantata, it is leavened with the melodic and dramatic gifts of one of the Baroque era’s best opera composers. An additional feature typical of Keiser’s work is the varied instrumentation; none of the solo movements, whether aria, duet, or trio, have the same instrumentation.
The pairing of Keiser with Graupner on this disc is appropriate; they both wrote for the Hamburg opera in the first decade of the 18th century, and Graupner contributed several arias to one of Keiser’s greatest operatic successes,
Der Carneval von Venedig
. Graupner’s only Magnificat may have been written in support of an application for the position of Thomaskantor in Leipzig. The work is very appealing, vocally and instrumentally. Although Graupner’s work found favor in Leipzig, his Darmstadt employer refused to release him to accept the Leipzig appointment.
Rastatter Hofkapelle is, at least on this recording, a group of eight vocalists and 13 instrumentalists. Jürgen Ochs, the conductor, also serves as tenor soloist and chorister. The performances are generally accomplished, especially from the instrumentalists and the vocalists singing in concert. In their solo turns, however, they are somewhat disappointing. The solo music obviously taxes their abilities; they are able to get through their solo assignments, but we are aware that more-accomplished singers could have made more of this music. I do not want to put anyone off of purchasing this recording by suggesting that the solo singing is awful; it certainly isn’t that. It simply could have been better with more-accomplished vocalists.
Carus claims that both of these works are recording premieres, and I see no reason to dispute this claim. The short length of the program is a disappointment. There was plenty of room for another Keiser or Graupner work. Both of these works are well worth getting to know, and the recording has provided me with a great deal of pleasure.
FANFARE: Ron Salemi
Works on This Recording
Dialogus von der Geburt Christi by Reinhard Keiser
Written: 1707; Hamburg, Germany
Length: 26 Minutes 13 Secs.
Magnificat by Christoph Graupner
Beate Spaltner (Soprano)
Written: 1722; Leipzig, Germany
Length: 11 Minutes 50 Secs.
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