Notes and Editorial Reviews
A TREASURY OF GERMAN BAROQUE MUSIC
Hanoverian Ens (period instruments)
MSR 1380 (64:32)
An Wasserflüssen Babylon,
Praeludium in C,
Trio Sonata in G.
Preambulum No. 2 in c.
Fantasia in d. Arietta with Variations in F.
Trio Sonata in C. Duet in a,
Trio Sonata in A,
Sonata in e,
As the booklet notes for this compendium state, the eclectic grouping of works was selected solely on the basis of “an hour or so of pleasurable listening.” Further, the excuse is that, while other discs tend to be encyclopedic in their contents, the works herein were chosen by reason of the instrumentation of the Hanoverian Ensemble and the resonant hall within which they recorded it, a recital hall at Vassar College with its tracker organ. No matter, since no reasoning is really necessary as it conforms nicely to a sort of
, a non-liturgical concert of various miscellaneous works created by one of the composers on the disc, Dietrich Buxtehude. With the exception of Vincent Lübeck (1654–1740), all of the remainder are fairly well known to people, Pachelbel almost to the point of derision for his canon. This group presents a good series of pieces that display the sort of music that one was likely to find at one of these concerts, where organ music was interspersed with chamber pieces. Although Johann Joachim Quantz and Johann Friedrich Fasch belong to a later generation, their trio sonatas are Baroque enough in style to have merited inclusion.
Flutist John Solum evidently delved into the archives to find these pieces, for I’m not sure whether many have actually been recorded before. The Telemann E-Minor sonata for two flutes only recently turned up in the Singakademie archives repatriated from Kiev, but the Buxtehude praeludium has had a veritable revival this past year, with two other recordings by Hans Davidsson on Loft and Intim. The Pachelbel works are also found on Dorian in a performance by Antoine Bouchard. The Telemann, Fasch, and Quantz are also available. Still, the program seems to work. The opening trio sonata by Quantz, Frederick the Great’s flute teacher, nicely pairs the flute and recorder, with some particularly fine passages of duo virtuosity in the
second movement. The lines are more lyrical in the Telemann trio sonata, and in the third movement the use of the harp stop on the harpsichord lends the imitative passages of the two flutes a nicely mincing quality. In the Fasch sonata, the two recorders provide the harmony, sometimes dissonant, above which the traverse flute floats lightly, though there are instances where the texture becomes throaty. The Telemann duo flute sonata seems a bit thin; here one misses the harmony provided by a continuo. The same can be said of the Quantz duo, where the imitative lines of the opening Allegro beg for some support. Still, the fugue that constitutes the final movement is complete within itself, with the lines folding over each other. As for the organ pieces, the Pachelbel, Lübeck, and Buxtehude are characterized by a full voice texture, with all-stops power. The Bach, on the other hand, is almost a wimpy piece, here performed by organist Kent Tritle with heavy vibrato and an overly rich stops palette. The Pachelbel begins in a like manner, but the theme and variations soon incorporate different registers.
As performances go, perhaps with the exception of the Bach organ prelude, the Hanoverian ensemble does well. The renditions are musically interesting and the tempos quite nice. Tritle’s organ playing also displays the capabilities of the Vassar tracker organ well. Flutist Richard Wyton has one or two moments of tentativeness in his playing, particularly at the opening movements, but these pass quickly and his sound blends nicely with that of Solum. The continuo of Arthur Fiacco and Tritle is never obtrusive and is so well integrated that, as mentioned before, one misses it when it is lacking. The disc is to be recommended, though one will have to decide whether a collection like this appeals.
FANFARE: Bertil van Boer