Notes and Editorial Reviews
MUSIC AND POETRY FROM THE TIME OF THE 30 YEARS’ WAR
Musica Fiorita; Daniela Dolci (dir/hpd); Susanne Rydén (s); Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (spkr)
ARS MUSICI 232262 (52:57
DIETRICH BECKER, GRYPHIUS, VIERDANCK, SCHOP, SELLE, STADEN
To write of this CD is somewhat difficult because so little of this music or its composers have had any previous exposure,
although the style of the pieces here is certainly familiar to fans of early Baroque. The real difficulty comes in the interspersed poetry, read with obvious feeling by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, as well as the songs, because none of the text is translated in the booklet and online translators have a hard time with Old German. This is my lone complaint, however, about a CD of such obvious merit.
The music, though based on Italian models of the time, makes a conscious effort to follow German speech patterns and to be as much music for the intellect as for the heart. In this presentation, the usual sound of ground bass is assigned to the harpsichord, organ, theorbo, and cello in order to point out its function as the underlying structure of each piece rather than just its use as the framework of the harmony. The style of instrumental performance is generally light, bright, and with good legato, though soprano Susanne Rydén sings with the usual cookie-cutter straight tone and angular phrasing. Several times, her diction is not entirely clear, as her method of tone production tends to soften her consonants too much.
Two very watery cornetti are heard in Vierdanck’s Capriccio 17, but they have a charming if odd effect. All of the poetry was written by Andreas Gryphius (1616–64), and the titles are translated thus: “Tears of the Fatherland,” “The Lament of Devastated Germany,” “Vain! Everything Is Vain!,” “Do You Say Farewell to the World?,” and “Rend, Earth! Rend in Two!” Hopefully, one can glean the meaning of the words through these titles, though in many of them there are several German words that are easy to translate, which will give you a better idea of these poems.
Singet dem Herrn,
by Johann Vierdanck, music director at the Marian Church in Stralsund, is a particularly lively and appealing song, sung with minimal vivacity by Rydén. I can well imagine that a slightly fuller and more expressive voice could make real magic of this song. On the other hand, she captures the desolate feeling of
very well, and in
Frisch auff mein Herz,
there’s an interesting effect as the opening lines sound as if sung by two sopranos when in fact Rydén’s voice is being doubled by one of the violins.
The fine quality of the music and its performance, as well as the impassioned poetry readings of Fischer-Dieskau (are these “historically correct”?), make this a disc worth owning.
FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
Works on This Recording
Capriccio No. 17 ŕ 3 by Johann Vierdanck
Length: 5 Minutes 21 Secs.
Sonata No. 5 ŕ 3 by Johann Staden
Length: 3 Minutes 13 Secs.
Symphonia No. 64 ŕ 6 by Johann Staden
Length: 1 Minutes 44 Secs.
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