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"Vitae Pomeranorum, Vol. II"

Consortium Sedinum

rec: August 17 - 19, 2015, Kolbacz (Pl), [Sacred Heart of Jesus Church]
Recart - 0018 (© 2015) (58'34")
Liner-notes: E/Pl
Cover & track-list

Dieterich BUXTEHUDE (1637-1707): Suite in d minor (BuxWV 233)b; Suite in e minor (BuxWV 236)b; Johann FISCHER (1646-1716): Suite in g minora; Valentin MEDER (1649-1719): Trio Chaconne in C; Johann VIERDANCK (1605-1646): Canzona XXI a 3 in C; Canzona XXII a 3 in G; Galiarda with variations; Passamezzo with variations; Theophile Andre VOLCKMAR (1684-1748): Sonata I in C

Grzegorz Laleka, Agnieszka Swiatkowska, violin; Gertrud Ohse, viola da gamba; Henryk Kasperczak, theorbo; Urszula Stawicka, harpsichord (solob)

Today's political map of Europe looks very different from that of earlier periods in history, for instance the 17th century. The present disc is devoted to a region at the Baltic Sea: Pomerania, in German Pommern. Today it is hardly known, except in the name of one of the states in Germany: Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The original region is now partly German and partly Polish; its main city is Gdansk (German: Danzig), which in the baroque period was an important centre of music. Also notable is Stralsund, which owns one of the most important historical organs in northern Germany.

Here Johann Vierdanck, a pupil of Heinrich Schütz, worked as an organist; before that he had been in Lübeck and Copenhagen. Only one organ work from his pen has survived; the main part of his oeuvre comprises sacred vocal music and two collections of instrumental music, which appeared in 1637 and 1641 respectively. The first consists of suites for two violins and basso continuo; a selection was recorded by the ensemble Parnassi Musici. The second includes pieces for two to five instruments and basso continuo. The present disc opens and closes with four pieces from this collection.

Johann Valentin Meder studied theology in Leipzig but turned to music and became a professional singer; he also acted as organist. He worked in Gotha, Bremen, Hamburg, Copenhagen and Lübeck, and in 1686 he was appointed as Kapellmeister at the Marienkirche in Danzig. In 1698 he was dismissed after a conflict about the performance of one of his operas. His oeuvre includes sacred music, including a St Matthew Passion, secular vocal works and only two instrumental pieces. One of them is the Trio in C, in the form of a chaconne, for two violins and basso continuo, which testifies to the Italian influence in his oeuvre.

Another important city in Pomerania was Stettin (today Szczecin in Poland). Here Theophile Andre Volckmar was born and succeeded his father as organist of the Church of St Peter and St Paul in 1707. From 1712 onwards he was organist of the Trinity Church and then of St Catherine's. Twice he applied for the position of organist of St Mary's but he was rejected. The reasons given in a document of 1720: his compositions, being characterised as "vain fancies", his harmful way of pedal playing, discord with the Kapellmeister and his conduct in the churches he had served. In 1730 he moved to Köslin (Koszalin in Poland) and returned to Stettin in 1733. Volckmar has no entry in New Grove. I have not been able to find out what his oeuvre looks like, but he has become best known for his organ works, which were published complete in 2009 (some of them were recorded by Martin Rost). Here we hear the Sonata I in C which is a technically accomplished work. It is a specimen of the German violin school, although Volckmar makes sparse use of double-stopping.

The programme also includes two harpsichord suites by Dieterich Buxtehude. That is a little odd as he did not work in the region which is the focus of this disc. It is justified by referring to his influence in the region around the Baltic Sea, which is undeniable. However, considering that he is very well known and that even his harpsichord music has become far better known since the Buxtehude year of 2007 I would have preferred more pieces by composers who actually worked in the region.

The performers are all accomplished musicians who play in various ensembles at home and abroad. They deliver fine performances here. The violin playing is technically assured and the interpretations are stylistically convincing. Grzegorz Lalek makes a very good impression in Volckmar's sonata; he is a composer of whose instrumental music I definitely would like to hear more. Urszula Stawicka is excellent in the two harpsichord suites by Buxtehude.

Especially taking into account the little-known pieces in the programme this is a disc curious minds should investigate.

Johan van Veen (© 2018)

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