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"Musici da Camera"

Collegium Marianum; Sergio Azzolini, bassoona
Dir: Jana Semerádová

rec: June 2003, Sept 2005 & July 2012, Prague, [Church of Our Lady, Queen of Angels]
Supraphon - SU 4112-2 (2 CDs) (© 2012) (1.52'31")
Liner-notes: E/D/F/Cz
Cover & track-list

Antonio CALDARA (1670-1736): Sonata for violin and bc in A; Johann Friedrich FASCH (1688-1758): Concerto for transverse flute, violin, bassoon and bc in C (FWV L,C3)a; Concerto for two transverse flutes, strings and bc in D (FWV L,D9); Quartet for transverse flute, violin, bassoon and bc in D (FWV N,D1)a; Frantisek JIRÁNEK (1698-1778): Sonata for two violins and bc in B flat (Jk 27); Johann Georg ORSCHLER (1698-1767/70): Trio for two violins and bc in f minora; Christian Gottlob POSTEL (c1697-1730): Sonata for two violins and bc in A; Antonin REICHENAUER (c1694-1730): Quartet for violin, cello, bassoon and bc in g minor (Rk 18)a; Sonata for violin, cello and bc in B flat (Rk 20); Jaroslav Ignác Antonín TUMA (1704-1774): Partita for transverse flute and bc in C; Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741): Trio for violin, lute and bc in g minor (RV 85)

Julie Braná, Jana Semerádová, transverse flute; Lenka Torgersen, Cecilie Valtrová, Helena Zemanová, violin; Vojtech Semerád, violin, viola; Hana Fleková, Ilze Grudele, cello; Ludek Braný, Ondrej Stajnochr, Lukás Verner, double bass; Evengelina Mascardi, lute; Michele Carreca, theorbo; Jan Krejca, theorbo, guitar; Pablo Kornfeld, harpsichors; Sebastian Knebel, harpsichord, organ

This set of two discs is part of a series with music from 18th-century Prague. It was one of the main musical centres of Europe at the time. Music was played at the palaces of the aristocracy and increasingly in the homes of members of the bourgeoisie. However, the music scene had an international character: compositions were disseminated across Europe either in manuscript or in printed editions and composers were travelling around looking for employment. Therefore it doesn't surprise that these discs include music by composers from the region which has been preserved elsewhere as well as music by foreign composers performed in Prague.

The programme includes a piece by Antonio Vivaldi, who had various ties with Prague. One of them was Count Jan Josef of Vrtba who was a champion of his music. For him Vivaldi composed several works with lute, among them the Trio in g minor (RV 85). He also had a patron, Count Wenzel von Morzin; to him Vivaldi dedicated his opus 8, including Le quattro stagioni. He was an important figure at the music scene in Bohemia. Several composers figuring in the programme were in some ways connected to him. That is the case with Johann Friedrich Fasch, who in 1721 and 1722 stayed about half a year in Prague, acting as composer to Count Morzin. In the latter year Fasch was appointed as Kapellmeister in Zerbst, but the ties with Count Morzin remained intact for several years. Fasch was allowed to take copies of some music in Morzin's collection for performance in Zerbst. Fasch is represented with three compositions; they seem to have been recorded before, but even so, considering that Fasch is still not that well-known yet, their addition is most welcome. Fasch was an important contributor to the genre of the quartet, just like Telemann. The Quartet in D is notable for its bassoon part. It is in four movements, whereas the Concerto in C for the same scoring is in three movements. This belongs to the genre of the concerto da camera, which is known from, for instance, the oeuvre of Vivaldi. Fasch also composed a considerable number of concertos for one or various solo instruments; the Concerto in D follows the Vivaldian model of three movements.

Various compositions have been recorded here for the first time, among them the two pieces by Antonín Reichenauer. He succeeded Fasch as composer to Count Morzin during the 1720s. He also contributed to the genre of the quartet; the Quartet in g minoris dominated by dark colours due to the scoring for violin, cello, bassoon and bc. It creates a nice contrast between the two low instruments and the violin. The prominent role of the cello in this piece and in the Sonata in B flat for violin, cello and bc explains that they are part of the collection of the German Count Rudolf Erwein von Schönborn-Wiesentheid who collected a large amount of music for the cello and commissioned cello pieces from composers like Vivaldi and Caldara. Frantisek Jiránek was born on the Morzin estate in Lomnice nad Popelkou, served at the court as the Count's page and was sent to Venice to study with Vivaldi. The Sonata in B flat is written in the galant idiom and has been preserved in Berlin. It has the fashionable texture in its sequence of three movements: slow - fast - fast.

Christian Gottlieb Postel was a member of Count Morzin's orchestra; only three compositions from his pen have been preserved. The Sonata in A is dominated by counterpoint. That is also the case with the Sonata in f minor by Johann Georg Orschler, who - like Postel - was born in Breslau in Silesia (today Wroclaw in Poland). He was in Prague in the late 1720s, having studied with Johann Joseph Fux in Vienna. This sonata is one of two which are preserved in the archive of the court orchestra in Dresden. That bears witness of the fact that his music was appreciated; the Sonata in f ends with an extended fugue.

Frantisek Ignac Antonin Tuma was a native from Bohemia and received his musical education from the Jesuits in Prague. He made a career in Vienna and composed a large amount of sacred music. His instrumental oeuvre includes sonatas and pieces called partita; one of them is the Partita in C which has been preserved in Prague. It begins with an intrada, includes a pair of minuets and closes with a bourlesque which shows the influence of folk music. Lastly Caldara, a composer who most of his life worked in Vienna, and whose music was quite popular across Europe. In comparison to his huge oeuvre of vocal music his instrumental output is rather small. The Sonata in A is one of eight sonatas for violin and bc which have come down to us.

No less than six of the pieces on these discs have been recorded here for the first time: the two works by Reichenauer, and the pieces by Jiránek, Postel, Orschler and Tuma. The performances are outstanding. The recordings were made in three different years, and that explains that the line-up of the ensemble considerably varies. That has had no effect on the outcome, though; all players deliver fine performances and the ensemble is excellent. The collaboration of Sergio Azzolini, one of the world's best players of the baroque bassoon, is a great asset. The Collegium Marianum has recorded several discs with very different repertoire. I have heard most of them, and they are all worth investigating.

Johan van Veen (© 2013)

Relevant links:

Collegium Marianum

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