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Baroque Bass Cantatas From Central Germany

Kegel / Accademia Daniel / Ad-el
Release Date: 02/23/2010 
Label:  Cpo   Catalog #: 777298-2  
Composer:  Emanuel KegelChristian Michael WolffJohann Theodor RoemhildtGeorg Melchior Hoffmann,   ... 
Performer:  Klaus Mertens
Conductor:  Shalev Ad-El
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Accademia Daniel
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Cantatas by completely unknown German composers of the early 18th century - music and performances of high quality.

In the 17th and the early 18th centuries there were ample opportunities to work as a musician in Germany. Many cities and aristocratic courts had their own chapels. The best musicians were expected to compose instrumental music, music for special occasions like birthdays and weddings, sometimes operas and, of course, religious works. As most music was performed only once and compositions were considered old-fashioned within about ten years, there was a continuous demand for new music. Against this background it is hardly surprising that some of the composers of the 17th and 18th centuries have so far
Read more escaped the attention of modern scholars and performers.
 
The composers represented on this disc all fall into that category. None of them has an entry in New Grove, and none of the cantatas on this disc has been recorded before. Wait a minute, what about Telemann? Well, the cantata 'Kaum ist der Heÿland auf der Erden' is included in the catalogue of Telemann's works because the manuscript which was used for this recording bears the mark 'di TEL'. But Telemann scholars now favour the view that it was composed by someone else.
 
Also questionable is the identity of the composer of whom only the last name is given in the manuscript of the cantata 'Lobt Gott ihr Christen allzugleich'. The various possible identities of this 'Hoffmann' are given in the programme notes, but it all remains speculative for now.
 
All these cantatas have been found in the archive of the Kantoreigesellschaft of Mügeln, a small town between Leipzig and Dresden. In the 18th century the Kapellmeister copied a large number of cantatas, usually for a small scoring of voices and instruments. Most of the composers were from Thuringia and Saxony, and in general the cantatas are written in a rather conservative fashion. Johann Theodor Roemhildt, for instance, uses the recorder in the two cantatas on this disc, an instrument which in the early 18th century was becoming increasingly old hat.
 
This instrument also figures in the first item, 'Nichts ist süßer als die Liebe' by Emanuel Kegel. He is the oldest composer represented, and from that perspective the use of the recorder is less surprising. The two other instruments are the oboe and the violin which in the first aria have independent parts, whereas the recorder mostly plays colla parte with the soloist. The cantata contains three arias, interspersed by two recitatives. In the last aria the oboe and the recorder play unisono. Here we find some chromaticism in the instrumental introduction which can be explained by the text which is about death.
 
'Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin' is written for Purification, and like Bach's famous cantata 'Ich habe genug' it refers to Simeon who meets the boy Jesus in the temple and now is ready to die. Hence the first section with the text of Martin Luther's hymn 'Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin' (With peace and joy I depart). The text of the first stanza is sung by the bass to original music, whereas the two violins quote the hymn melody (Wittenberg, 1524) playing unisono. The content of this hymn returns in the strophic aria which closes the cantata. In between is a recitativo accompagnato.
 
Roemhildt, in the two cantatas recorded here, also makes use of accompanied recitative. Most remarkable is the role of the recorder. Both cantatas are scored for bass, recorder, two violins and basso continuo. The instrumental introductions to the arias give the impression of a recorder concerto. All arias are duets of bass and recorder. The use of chromaticism in the opening aria of 'Es geht kein andrer Weg zum Himmel' stems from the reference to 'thorns', and in the first aria of 'Meine Sonne stehet stille' the word "stille" (still) is set to a long-held note. These are just two examples of text expression found in the cantatas on this disc.
 
Hoffmann's cantata 'Lobt Gott ihr Christen allzugleich' begins and ends with the famous Christmas hymn, which is sung by the bass, with 'Vorimitation' ('fore-imitation') in the oboe part. In the second aria the bass is accompanied by solo bassoon and basso continuo.
 
'Mein Hertzens=Hauß bereite dich' by Johann Gottfried Donati is written for Pentecost. The first aria contains some contrast in the B part between the two closing lines. The last aria has an obbligato part for the oboe d'amore, which reflects the text about "love beyond all utterance, love that no heart can grasp".
 
'Kaum ist der Heÿland auf der Erden', attributed to Telemann, is written for the Sunday after New Year. Its subject is the Massacre of the Innocents and the flight of Joseph, Mary and Jesus to Egypt. It is scored for bass, two violins, viola, cello obbligato and bc. The cello part is in the first aria, whereas in the last there is an obbligato part for the bassoon. It is not mentioned in the booklet, and probably was originally scored for the cello again, but played here on the bassoon instead. The aria 'Herr, die gantze Welt ist dein' (Lord, the whole world is yours) is particularly expressive.
 
I can imagine that some people may be sceptical about a disc like this. If this music has been neglected for such a long time, and if these composers are completely unknown, could that be explained by a lack of quality? My answer is: most definitely not. I was impressed by the quality of the cantatas on this disc. It just shows how much music is still to be discovered, and also how much splendid music was written in Germany in Bach's time. None of the music on this disc was ever printed, but that was very common. Some cantatas were widely disseminated in Germany, and this is because Kapellmeister often exchanged their works with colleagues in order to diminish their workload or sold them to increase their income.
 
Klaus Mertens is an expert in this kind of repertoire, and his performance is nothing less than brilliant. He grasps every detail in the text and his articulation and diction are immaculate. Even without reading the lyrics one can understand every syllable. The instrumental parts are performed equally well in a truly speech-like manner.
 
The booklet contains much information about the composers but little about the individual cantatas. I think this is a general problem because many of the lyrics of music of the 17th and 18th centuries are full of references and connotations which are hard to understand for listeners of our time. I would like to see the authors of programme notes going into more detail about what the texts of vocal music are about.
 
-- Johan van Veen, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Nichts ist susser als die Liebe by Emanuel Kegel
Performer:  Klaus Mertens (Bass)
Conductor:  Shalev Ad-El
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Accademia Daniel
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
2.
Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin by Christian Michael Wolff
Performer:  Klaus Mertens (Bass)
Conductor:  Shalev Ad-El
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Accademia Daniel
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
3.
Es geht kein andrer Weg by Johann Theodor Roemhildt
Performer:  Klaus Mertens (Bass)
Conductor:  Shalev Ad-El
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Accademia Daniel
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
4.
Meine Sonne stehet stille by Johann Theodor Roemhildt
Performer:  Klaus Mertens (Bass)
Conductor:  Shalev Ad-El
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Accademia Daniel
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
5.
Lobt Gott ihr Christen allzugleich by Georg Melchior Hoffmann
Performer:  Klaus Mertens (Bass)
Conductor:  Shalev Ad-El
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Accademia Daniel
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
6.
Mein Hertzens Hauss bereite dich by Johann Gottfried Donati
Performer:  Klaus Mertens (Bass)
Conductor:  Shalev Ad-El
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Accademia Daniel
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
7.
Kaum ist der Heiland, TV 1 no 991 by Georg Philipp Telemann
Performer:  Klaus Mertens (Bass)
Conductor:  Shalev Ad-El
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Accademia Daniel

Sound Samples

Nichts ist susser als die Liebe: Aria:
Nichts ist susser als die Liebe: Recitative: Wer wollte nicht von gantzem Hertzen liebe?
Nichts ist susser als die Liebe: Aria: Geuss das Feuer deiner Liebe
Nichts ist susser als die Liebe: Recitative: Denn Lieb ist stark, als wie der Todt
Nichts ist susser als die Liebe: Aria: Kein Todt macht mir die Augen triebe
Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin: Aria:
Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin: Recitative: So hor ich Simeon voll heilger Wollust singen
Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin: Aria: Ich fahre hin in Fried und Freuden
Es geht kein andrer Weg zum Himmel: Aria:
Es geht kein andrer Weg zum Himmel: Recitative: Mein Jesus, weil dein gantzes Leben
Es geht kein andrer Weg zum Himmel: Aria: So geh ich mit Gedult und hoffen
Lobt Gott ihr Christen allzugleich: Choral:
Lobt Gott ihr Christen allzugleich: Recitative: So lieb hat Gott die Welt
Lobt Gott ihr Christen allzugleich: Aria: Jesu Schopffer aller Dinge
Lobt Gott ihr Christen allzugleich: Recitative: O Liebe, so nicht zu ergrunden
Lobt Gott ihr Christen allzugleich: Aria: Horet doch an, ach horet es gern
Lobt Gott ihr Christen allzugleich: Choral: Heut schleust Er wieder auf die Thur
Mein Hertzens hauss bereite dich: Aria:
Mein Hertzens hauss bereite dich: Aria: O Seelen Heyl!
Mein Hertzens hauss bereite dich: Aria: Liebe die nicht auszusprechen
Kaum ist der Heiland auf der Erden, TWV 1:991: Aria: Kaum ist der Heiland auf der Erden
Kaum ist der Heiland auf der Erden, TWV 1:991: Recitative: Herodes sucht den zu verderben
Kaum ist der Heiland auf der Erden, TWV 1:991: Aria: Herr, die gantze Welt ist dein
Kaum ist der Heiland auf der Erden, TWV 1:991: Recitative: Allein dein Elend hat gemessen Lauff
Kaum ist der Heiland auf der Erden, TWV 1:991: Aria: Wir sind Fremde hier auf Erden
Meine Sonne stehet stille: Aria:
Meine Sonne stehet stille: Recitative: Er ist meine Zuversicht
Meine Sonne stehet stille: Aria: In des Creutzes Finsternissen

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