Notes and Editorial Reviews
The Hapsburg emperors of the 17th century, burdened by heavy administrative and war anxieties, sought and found solace, perhaps even a temporary flight to a world of illusions, in the realm of the beautiful. These Baroque emperors were not only passionate music lovers but were themselves skilled musicians. They attracted some of the finest composers and instrumentalists of the time, bringing riches of musical knowledge and taste, to their court. Especially notable in this respect is Leopold I (1640-1705), who began his reign in 1658. During his reign he warred against Louis XIV of France, against the Turks who in 1683 besieged Vienna, and against an uprising of Hungarian noblemen who got aid from both the French and the Turks. Yet all
through this period, some of the most extraordinarily inventive and beautiful music of the era was heard at his court, as the works on this program reveal. They fall a little earlier than the works of the “high Baroque” that are so much publicized in the “Baroque revival” today, and are perhaps less standardized in form. They exhibit, in their variety, a fine combination of entertaining and “learned” elements, with musical imagination erecting its structures over a solid base of highly skilled contrapuntal art.
All the works have been recorded either on original instruments for which they were written or on suitable instruments that have been adjusted in the same way and played in the same manner as in the 17th and 18th centuries. The string instruments have bridges in the old form, catgut was especially prepared, the instruments are played with their original bows, and the bass and necks are original. All of these elements have an important effect on the sound making it not only much quieter but also more transparent than is characteristic of the modern or modernized instruments.
-- Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Works on This Recording
Sonatae unarum fidium (6): no 4 by Johann Heinrich Schmelzer
Written: by 1664; Austria
Sonata à 6 "La Buscha" by Giovanni Legrenzi
Written: 17th Century; Italy
Featured Sound Samples
Overture for 2 Oboes, 2 Violins, Viola, Bassoon & Cello (Fux): I. Overture
Fidicinium sacroprofanum: Sonata no 10 (Biber)
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