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"Fortuna scherzosa"

Ina Siedlaczek, soprano
Hamburger Ratsmusik
Dir: Simone Eckert

rec: May 14 - 16, 2013, Marienmünster, Abteikirche
Audite - 92.703 (© 2014) (61'39")
Liner-notes: E/D; lyrics - no translations
Cover & track-list

Philipp Heinrich ERLEBACH (1657-1714): Des Glückes Spiele, betrügen vielea; Geduld kann überwinden, will sich das Unglück findena; Mein Sehnen ist gestillt, und mein Wunsch nun erfüllta; Johann Philipp KRIEGER (1649-1727): An die Einsamkeit; Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767): Amor heißt mich freudig lachen (TWV 20,43); Fortuna scherzosa (TWV deest); Hoffnung (TWV 20,24); Johann ULICH (1677-1741): Ihr hellen Sterne des Glücks

Sources: Johann Philipp Krieger, Auserlesene in denen dreyen Sing-Spielen Flora, Cecrops und Procris enthaltene Arien, 1690; Philipp Heinrich Erlebach, Harmonische Freude musicalischer Freunde, 1697; Georg Philipp Telemann, VI moralische Cantaten, 1735-36

Christoph Heidemann, violina; Simone Eckert, treble viola, bass viol; Ulrich Wedemeier, theorbo; Michael Fuerst, harpsichord

2014 is not only the year in which the birth of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach is commemorated. In 1714, when he was born, another German composer died: Philipp Heinrich Erlebach. He is far less known than the second son of Johann Sebastian Bach, but was held in high esteem by his contemporaries. One of them stated that he "amongst the German composers, gives most satisfaction and distinguishes himself admirably". Whereas Emanuel Bach's compositions appear regularly in concert programmes and on disc, Erlebach's music is hardly known.

Unfortunately there isn't that much to rediscover in his oeuvre, for the simple reason that most of it has been lost. For 33 years he was Kapellmeister at the court of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt and in this capacity the rather small establishment developed into an important centre of music making. Erlebach made a name for himself as a composer and his output must have been quite large. After his death the court bought his collection of music from his widow. In 1735 it was destroyed in a fire and as a result only a fraction of his oeuvre has come down to us.

Among his extant works is a collection of arias which was printed in two volumes in 1697 and 1710 respectively. It is assumed they were originally part of his operas which are all lost. If that is indeed the case they give us some insight into his operatic style, and one has to conclude that the loss of his operas is highly regrettable. They also give an idea of the style of the operas of the time. The three arias included here are all strophic, and scored for solo voice, two violins and bc. These are beautiful pieces with attractive melodies and nice parts for the violins.

This disc juxtaposes composers of two generations. Johann Philipp Krieger was of the same generation as Erlebach and was first organist and then Kapellmeister at the court of Saxony-Weissenfels. He was one of the most productive composers of his time; his own catalogue includes 2000 cantatas of which only 76 are extant. Two collections of arias were printed whose titles indicate that they are from his Sing-Spiele; none of these has survived. An die Einsamkeit is from Cecrops und Procris and is based on a chaconne bass which is repeated 18 times.

Johann Ulich and Georg Philipp Telemann represent the next generation. Like Erlebach the latter was a representative of the mixed style which was dominant in Germany and in which Italian and French elements were incorporated into the German tradition. There is another similarity: Erlebach had written overtures in the French style, inspired by the instrumental suites from the operas of Lully. Telemann was also one of the most productive composers of such overtures.

Little is known about Johann Ulich, and he is not even mentioned in New Grove. He was born in Wittenberg where his father was organist and Kantor. Here he studied at the university and in 1708 moved to Zerbst where he first acted as organist of the St. Bartholomäi-Kirche and instrumentalist at the court. In 1722 Johann Friedrich Fasch was appointed Kapellmeister, thus becoming Ulich's colleague. It is not known how much he has composed: the palace of Anhalt-Zerbst was destroyed by fire during World War II and apparently the musical archive with it. His extant compositions comprise three cantatas, nine keyboard pieces and a set of six sonatas for recorder. The latter have been recorded by the ensemble Lux Borea.

In its texture it is a more modern piece than the arias by Erlebach, comprising of recitatives and arias, although the latter are mostly rather short. The arias in Telemann's cantatas are more developed. They represent a part of his output which is little known. It is mostly the larger-scale and more dramatic works which are performed, such as Ino, but these smaller-scale pieces are little gems and show some of the features of Telemann's style, such as the attention to melody and a fine depiction of the text. Some texts may have been written by the composer himself, such as Fortuna scherzosa which is probably an early work and was discovered in the archive of the Berlin Sing-Akademie. The choice of texts very much reflect the composer's sense of humour which he also displayed in his instrumental works.

The subject which connects the pieces on this disc gives much opportunity for a humorous approach. In classical mythology Fortuna was the goddess of good and bad luck. She is used as a metaphor for the twists and turns in everyday life, and especially in love. The latter is a classical subject in operas and cantatas which juxtapose fickleness and constancy.

This is a most enjoyable disc. Hamburger Ratsmusik is an experienced ensemble which has made many interesting recordings, and always comes up with little-known repertoire. That isn't any different here. The compositions are mostly unknown, but deserve to be performed and recorded. They represent a part of the German baroque repertoire which receives not that much attention. They have found interpreters who are pretty much ideal. I had never heard Ina Siedlaczek before, and I am quite impressed by her singing. She has a very beautiful voice, articulates well and is very responsive to the text. Especially the way Telemann has depicted elements in the text is not lost on her. The long lines in Erlebach's arias come off perfectly, with good dynamic shading and stylish ornamentation when it is needed. I am looking forward to future recording projects.

It is a shame that the booklet omits the names of the players of the violin parts in Erlebach. The record company has been so kind to give me their names. Even more regrettable is the omission of translations of the lyrics.

Johan van Veen (© 2014)

Relevant links:

Ina Siedlaczek
Hamburger Ratsmusik

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