|Review by Lute October 13, 2013 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
|An illuminating collection from Dacapo of recorder concertos that were likely played at the Danish court in the baroque era. 300 years ago, the countries around the Baltic Sea were involved in the Great Northern War (1700-1721). In addition to that, Copenhagen had to deal with 2 major fires and the plague. When we read about events in history, we often hear about such troubles of the past. But through music & art, we can see another, more pleasant side to the story. As his Prussian neighbor to the south (Frederick the Great) would later become, King Frederik IV of Denmark was also a patron of the arts and very fond of music. His court orchestra was called "The Court Violins". They would eventually evolve into the Royal Orchestra. In 1703, he opened an opera house in Copenhagen. The first performance was by Bartolomeo Bernardi. The city had a cosmopolitan air with the latest music trends of Europe being performed by German, French, and Italian musicians and singers who visited. The recorder seems to have been especially popular in Denmark during the period. Even the famous playwright Ludvig Holberg loved to play it at musical gatherings.
Graupner, Scheibe, Graun were contemporaries of and known to J.S. Bach and Telemann. Christoph Graupner, who worked in Darmstadt Germany, had tried to secure the position of the cantorate of Leipzig and was second in line after Telemann. But as fortune would have it... the position eventually was given to J.S. Bach, who was actually 3rd in line behind Graupner. Johann Gottlieb Graun, who was the brother of Carl Heinrich Graun, studied with the Italian violinist and composer Giuseppe Tartini. He would later teach the violin to J.S. Bach's son, Wilhelm Friedmann. Johann Adolf Scheibe was a music critic as well as composer. Though he highly regarded J.S. Bach as a performer and composer, Scheibe is also known for his criticism of the influence of various 'new' styles in Bach's music.
As one can hear from the pieces on this SACD, the music of these nearly forgotten composers is certainly up to the high standards of their better known contemporaries. The first of Graupner's works performed here is a 6-movement Overture in the French style and has a stately overture that flows into lively dance movements. The anonymous "The Princess's Suite" is a rearrangement of some dance movements that were in (Frederik's daughter) Princess Charlotte Amalie's collection of guitar music. These dances have been arranged into a French overture. And in this arrangement, this is their world premiere recording. Being in D minor, it has a darker, more serious tone, which adds a nice contrast to the mostly cheerful mood of the program. The second of Graupner's works and those of Graun and Scheibe are 3-movement concertos in the Italian style. Graun's is a Double concerto for recorder and violin. Its Adagio is quite moving. And the Andante of Graupner's concerto has a delicate pizzicato arrangement.
The last track is a bonus piece from another Dacapo release. It's the Più Vivace from Johann Christian Schickhardt's sonata for recorder and basso continuo in C minor. It is an elegant, melancholy piece. And this sample has certainly sparked my interest to hear more.
The solo parts are given nimble and expressive performances by Bolette Roed and Arte dei Suonatori join in with spirited yet polished playing. Those who know and like this ensemble from Handel: Concerti Grossi Op. 6 - Arte dei Suonatori will have much to enjoy here as well.
Recorded in DXD, 352.8 kHz / 32bit. The SQ is first-class. The instruments sound realistic. The recorder, strings, and harpsichord have a natural, warm sound. The balance is on the close side, which gives the recording a full and detailed sound. Fortunately, there is enough air to allow the music enough bloom. 2-channel is fine. Mch is also pretty good, but I do have one minor quibble about the Center speaker. It could have been used a bit more. As it is, I feel it's mainly to add ambience. To be sure, the Center speaker does provide a fair amount of sound, so it does add to the overall Mch soundstage. But the focus seems to be more on the Left and Right front speakers. It's not a major issue, so I only took off half a star from the Mch sonics.
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