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Ludger Rémy continues his invaluable revival of the works of Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel with six cantatas composed for the Pentecost season of 1737, adding for good measure
Er heisset Friedefürst, a cantata for Quasimodogeniti Sunday (April 20, 1732). Both this and the Pentecost cantatas belong to the collection housed in Sondershausen Castle, which ironically remains the richest source of Stölzel’s extant works. The irony arises from the fact that before gaining the post of Kapellmeister at the court of Gotha in 1720, the unknown composer had been turned down by the court of Schwarzburg-Sondershausen in favor of the now-obscure Johann Balthasar Freislich. AfterRead more hearing some of Stölzel’s music, the reigning prince, Günther I, apparently realized his mistake, and after Freislich’s death rapidly took steps to at least associate Stölzel with Sondershausen, for which court he composed between 1732 and 1740, the year of Günther’s death. While not all the music in the Sondershausen collection was composed specifically for that court, the loss of many of the works Stölzel composed for Gotha gives it priceless value.
The six short Pentecost cantatas were designed to be performed in pairs, presumably one each side of the sermon, on each of the three days of the season, forming part of a double cycle of cantatas for the year. The scheme of each is similar, an opening chorus and closing chorale framing a brief sequence of alternating recitatives and arias. Each pair is given individual character by its instrumental coloring: a pair of horns in those for Pentecost Sunday, oboes for the second day, and flutes for the third.
The abiding quality of Stölzel’s music is an art that conceals art. It expresses itself with a simplicity that goes directly to the heart, gently touching the listener. You won’t find here the contrapuntal grandeur or elevated messages of Bach, although Stölzel is quite capable of demonstrating contrapuntal skill (in the opening chorus of
Werdet voll Geistes, for example). Rather does he gently lead us, all the while ensuring total transparency in the exposition of his texts, coloring them with such expressive means as the evocation of the light rustling of wind produced by the breath of the Holy Spirit in the tenor aria of
Werdet voll Geistes, or the illustrative tumbling scalar figure that pervades the soprano aria “Ich werfe mich” (“I throw myself at your feet”) from
So denn ihr. Siehe da includes a fine soprano aria (No. 3) ingeniously combining a chorale with free-writing, the hymn appearing first in the vocal line, then taken over by obbligato horn. Elsewhere one notes Stölzel’s mastery of recitative, here invariably divided between two singers, which often segues from
accompagnato to arioso in the most flexible, natural manner. The odd cantata from 1732 is a tiny piece including only ensembles, its most notable movements a fleeting, all-too-brief opening chorus of the utmost serenity and a remarkable declamatory accompagnato for vocal quartet.
The one-per-part vocal performances are of a high order. Dorothee Mields and Jan Kobow are, of course, regular Rémy soloists, but the less familiar alto and bass also prove thoroughly reliable. Ludger Rémy himself is one of the (largely) unsung heroes of the musical world, a self-effacing director who has consistently produced outstanding recordings notable not for sensational gesture or headline grabbing eccentricity, but for performances informed by the highest degree of scholarship, musicality, and integrity. The present disc not only adds further laurels to those already garnered, but also increases the already substantial debt owed to Rémy for services rendered to one of Bach’s outstanding contemporaries.
Er heisset Friedefürstby Gottfried H. Stölzel Conductor:
Michaelstein Telemannisches Collegium
Period: Baroque Written: Germany
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Stolzel is Brilliant!July 10, 2012By Clifford H C. (Thompson, MB)See All My Reviews"These pieces are remarkable examples of the Baroque Church Cantata. The performers give a remarkable rendition of these works. Beautiful, consise and always entertaining. These cantata flow seamlessly from choral, to recitative, to aria to Accompagnato in flawless syncopation. With all of the Stolzel music that I have listened too, I am still amazed how he can capture my attention throughout the flow of his compositions. Most remarkable is his ability to create recitative that flow like silk, variations from soloist to soloist and beautiful dialogs between voices. Stolzel was first and formost a remarkable entertainer.
On this recording you can truly tell that Ludger Remy is absolutely "taken" by Stolzel's music. The performace is remarkable for its care and respect of the material and all of the musicians are captured in that spirit. This recording captures the unique communal energy of all of the performers. "Report Abuse