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Palschau, Et Al: Concertos And Solo Works For Harpsichord

Release Date: 08/28/2007 
Label:  Dacapo   Catalog #: 8226040   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Johann G.W. PalschauJohann Abraham P. Schulz
Performer:  Lars Ulrik Mortensen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Copenhagen
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 7 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

PALSCHAU Harpsichord Concertos: No. 1 in C; No. 2 in D. SCHULZ 6 Diverses pièces pour le clavecin ou le pianoforte Lars Ulrik Mortensen (hpd), cond; Concerto Copenhagen (period instruments) dacapo 8.226040 (67:08)

The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians contains but a brief paragraph on Johann Gottfried Wilhelm Palschau (1741–1815). In it we learn that he was a member of the orchestra at Read more Copenhagen’s Royal Opera. Among other things, Palschau toured extensively, visiting London a decade before Mozart (the notes tell us that Palschau lodged in the same house as Wolferl), and Hamburg in1761. In 1771 Palschau turns up in Riga, where he studied for a time with Johann Gottfried Müthel. Palschau settled in St. Petersburg (Russia) in 1771 and became highly successful as a performer. The annotations for the CD indicate that Palschau’s last documented concert was in 1800, when a German singer—H. C. Wunder—advertised in the Gazette de Saint-Pétersbourg that he had managed to acquire the services of the famous piano virtuoso, Herr Palschau.

As for Johann Abraham Peter Schulz (1747–1800), there is much more information. He was a German who studied in Berlin with C. P. E. Bach and Johann Philipp Kirnberger. Schulz was a staunch advocate of “new” music and staged operas by Gluck, Niccolò Piccinni, and others, but this got Schulz in the doghouse at Rheinsburg. Feeling it was time to move on, Schulz applied for and was appointed to a position in Copenhagen (1787–1795). There he reorganized the Royal Chapel, founded a benefit fund for musicians’ widows, wrote extensively on music education, and continued to compose. Schulz was highly influential in Denmark, and has been called a pioneer in that nation’s musical development.

This CD contains all of Palschau’s harpsichord concertos, his only other surviving compositions being several sets of variations on Russian folk songs. While not as highly developed as the concertos of his slightly older contemporary, Haydn. Palschau’s concertos are pleasant and uncomplicated works, showing more the influence of his Berlin studies with C. P. E. Bach and less of Müthel. The keyboard-writing is impressive and demanding, yet rewarding.

The title of the six pieces by Schulz indicates the changing musical times when the harpsichord was gradually being pushed aside for the more expressive fortepiano . The editor of the collection, Michael Struck, points out that the scope of the pieces is best illustrated by the difference between the Baroque character of opening prelude and the cantabile style of the melody found in the Andante.

Concerto Copenhagen, or CoCo as it is affectionately known, was founded in 1991; since 1999, Lars Ulrik Mortensen has been its artistic director. CoCo has released a number of important recordings that combine the more esoteric Scandinavian repertoire with the staples of the Baroque and Classic eras. The performances are benchmark from first note to last, compelling admiration via their seamless delivery and unforced stylistic grace. The bottom line is the music and musicians fulfill their mission: to open another chapter in music history and to spell pleasure from beginning to end.

While none of the material here will rival Haydn or Mozart, it is decidedly delightful and relaxing fare that is ideal for an occasional journey into the musical undergrowth. Bon voyage!

FANFARE: Michael Carter
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Harpsichord no 1 in C major by Johann G.W. Palschau
Performer:  Lars Ulrik Mortensen (Harpsichord)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Copenhagen
Period: Classical 
Written: 1771 
Venue:  Garrison Church, Copenhagen, Denmark 
Length: 14 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Notes: Garrison Church, Copenhagen, Denmark (03/02/2007 - 03/04/2007) 
Concerto for Harpsichord no 2 in D major by Johann G.W. Palschau
Performer:  Lars Ulrik Mortensen (Harpsichord)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Copenhagen
Period: Classical 
Written: 1771 
Venue:  Garrison Church, Copenhagen, Denmark 
Length: 24 Minutes 21 Secs. 
Notes: Garrison Church, Copenhagen, Denmark (03/02/2007 - 03/04/2007) 
Diverses pièces (6) for Keyboard, Op. 1 by Johann Abraham P. Schulz
Performer:  Lars Ulrik Mortensen (Harpsichord)
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1776; Germany 
Length: 27 Minutes 41 Secs. 
Notes: Garrison Church, Copenhagen, Denmark (03/13/2007); Garrison Church, Copenhagen, Denmark (03/15/2007) 

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