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"à Amsterdam"


rec: June 10, 2022 (live), Amsterdam, Waalse Kerk
TRPTK - TTK 0097 (© 2023) (71'46")
Liner-notes: E
Cover, track-list & booklet

Willem DE FESCH (1687-1761): 5 Duetsab; Conrad Friedrich HURLEBUSCH (1691-1765): Fugue in d minord; Jacob Herman KLEIN (1688-1748): Sonata I in d minor, op. 4,1cd; Servaas DE KONINK (1654-1701): Suite (from Trios Opp. 1 & 4); Pietro Antonio LOCATELLI (1695-1764): Sonata in e minor, op. 5,2; Antoine MAHAUT (1719-c1785): Sonata VI in D, op. 3,6 Sybrandt VAN NOORDT (1659-1705): Sonata I in Fbd; Carl (Charles) ROSIER (1640-1725): Sonata I; Johann Christian SCHICKHARDT (c1681-1762): Sonata in d minor, op. 23,4ad

Sources: Carl (Charles) Rosier, Pieces choisies, a la maniere Italienne, (...) Propres à joüer sur la Flute, le Violon & autres Instruments, 1691; Servaas de Konink, Trios, op. 1, 1696; Servaas de Konink, Trioos, op. 4, 1698; Sybrandt van Noordt, Mélange italien ou sonates à une flûte et une basse continue, n.d. (after 1701); Johann Christian Schickhardt, 12 Sonates à une flute et une basse continue, op. 23, c1720; Conrad Friedrich Hurlebusch, Compositioni musicali per il cembalo: divise in due parti, c1735; Pietro Antonio Locatelli, Sei Sonate a Tre, o Due Violini, o Due Flauti Traversi, e Basso per il Cembalo, op. 5, 1732; Jacob Herman Klein, VI Sonate a Violoncello Solo e Basso Continuo, op. 4, 1746; Willem de Fesch, Thirty Duets for two German Flutes, consisting of Variety of Airs in different Movements, op. 11, 1747; Antoine Mahaut, VI. Sonate Da Camera, à Tre Due Flauti Traversieri e Basso Continuo, op. 3, c1751

Aysha Willisa, David Westcombeb, transverse flute; Octavie Dostaler-Lalonde, celloc; Artem Belogurov, harpsichordd

Music written in the northern Netherlands - officially the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands - during the 17th and 18th centuries is seldom performed and recorded. Therefore it can hardly come as a surprise that the pieces recorded by the ensemble Postscript are mostly little-known, and even their composers may hardly ring a bell to many music lovers, including those who specialise in music of that period.

In the 17th century and for most of the 18th century music life in the Republic was different from that elsewhere in Europe. There were several reasons for that. One is the consequence of the name of the country: the Netherlands were a republic, and there was no royal court. Most of the Republic was ruled by a stadholder, but his position was in no way comparable to that of the kings of France and England, or even the Electors in Germany. The country was also not divided in units that were ruled by counts or dukes, unlike Germany, where court composers could move from one court to another to improve their position, and wrote music that was required by their employers. Another important factor has to do with the ecclesiastical situation. The dominant church was the Reformed Church, which allowed only the singing of psalms by the congregation. Motets, sacred concertos and cantatas were not required.

Public performances did take place, for instance in Amsterdam, and in the 18th century also elsewhere, but not on a regular basis. In contrast, much music was played in domestic surroundings, such as the homes of aristocrats or rich citizens of the main towns. The French psalms by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, for instance, were performed by a group of singers under the composer's direction at the homes of the upper echelons of Amsterdam. This situation explains the repertoire that was printed - especially in Amsterdam, one of Europe's centres of music printing - or disseminated in manuscript. It comprised vocal and instrumental music to be performed by advanced amateurs in the homes of aristocrats and the higher bourgeoisie as well as technically less-demanding pieces for more common amateurs. Hardly any large-scale music was written; the main exceptions were pieces composed for the Stadsschouwburg (theatre) of Amsterdam. The music published by one of the many Amsterdam music printers was intended for the international market in the first place and may have been played, in a modest line-up, in the homes of citizens and aristocrats.

A feature of music life in the Republic was also its international character. Collections of chamber music often included pieces by composers from elsewhere, and some of them worked in the Republic for some time. The best-known immigrant is Pietro Antonio Locatelli, who was internationally known as a violin virtuoso. He regularly performed in Amsterdam, where he lived from 1729 until his death. He also published his own music. His trio sonatas Op. 5 are scored for either violins or transverse flutes; the latter explains why they are not very virtuosic and Locatelli avoids something like double stopping.

The programme opens with music by a lesser-known immigrant: Carl (or Charles) Rosier, who was from Liège in the Spanish Netherlands. Educated as a violinist, he worked for most of his life in this capacity and later as vice-Kapellmeister at the court of the Elector Maximilian Heinrich in Bonn. Between 1683 and 1699 he regularly worked in the Republic, for instance in a collegium musicum in Amsterdam. His Pièces choisies à la manière italienne were printed in Amsterdam in 1691 and are intended for flute, violin and other instruments, as the title page says. At the time the word 'flute' was used for the recorder, and that was undoubtedly the most common instrument among amateurs at the time. That does not exclude a performance on transverse flutes, as such instruments were known.

Servaas de Konink was also from the Spanish Netherlands; he was born in Dendermonde. Around 1685 he must have settled in Amsterdam, where he became involved in performances at the Stadsschouwburg. His oeuvre includes some music for the stage, secular songs and motets as well as several collections of instrumental music. The performers have put together a suite of movements from two collections, the Op. 1 and the Op. 4, both trios for two treble instruments (recorder/oboe/violin) and basso continuo.

Sybrand van Noordt was the nephew of the famous organist of the Amsterdam Nieuwe Kerk, Anthoni van Noordt. How much Sybrand has written is unknown; only one set of four pieces was published in Amsterdam. The original edition is entitled Sonate per il cimbalo appropriate al flauto & violino, which indicates that they were originally conceived as harpsichord works. In this recording the performers turn to the later edition, which was published by Estienne Roger as Mélange italien ou sonates à une flûte et une basse continue (year unknown). Again, 'flûte' here undoubtedly indicates a recorder.

Conrad Friedrich Hurlebusch is another immigrant; he was born in Brunswick in Germany. He was educated as a keyboard player and had become acquainted with the music of the north German organ school and French harpsichord music. Between 1718 and 1721 he visited Italy. He had problems finding a job; he turned down several offers for various reasons, among them religion. In 1743 he is documented as organist of the Amsterdam Oude Kerk, where he remained until his death. A substantial part of his oeuvre has been lost; it consists of secular vocal and instrumental music and settings of the Genevan Psalter for keyboard. The fugue performed here is taken from a Hamburg edition, which was meant to be a correction of his Op. 1 as published in a pirate edition around 1733 by Witvogel in Amsterdam.

Another German, also born in Brunswick, was Johann Christian Schickhardt, who was educated as a wind player. Early in his career he worked in the Republic, in the service of, among others, Prince Johan Willem Friso of Orange. He later worked in Germany, Scandinavia and London. His connections to the University of Leiden are documented for 1745; there he remained until his death. He was also associated to the music printing firm of Estienne Roger and his successors Jeanne Roger and Michel-Charles Le Cène, which he provided with many compositions of his own pen and arrangements of music by others, such as Corelli. His oeuvre consists of chamber music in various scorings. Here one of the sonatas from the Op. 23 is performed.

Jacob Herman Klein was a business man and an amateur at the cello. However, his sonatas Op. 4 show that he must have had an advanced technique. Among the features of these sonatas are arpeggio figures, a large tessitura with an extensive use of the higher positions as well as fingerings, which suggest the use of portamento.

Willem de Fesch was born in 1687 in Alkmaar. Until 1730 he lived and worked in Amsterdam and Antwerp respectively. In 1732 he appeared in London. He worked as violinist, and his wife, Maria-Anna Rosier, performed as a singer. His oeuvre is substantial and comprises vocal music (sacred and secular) and instrumental works, concertos as well as chamber music. The duets performed here are taken from a set of thirty, published in London in 1744 as Musical Amuzements and three years later as 30 Duets Op. 11. As is so often the case with pieces for two treble instruments without basso continuo, one of them - or both of them in alternation - act as a kind of basso continuo.

The programme closes with another immigrant: Antoine Mahaut was from Namur in the southern Netherlands (under Austrian rule since the early 18th century). He was educated as a flautist, which explains the dominance of the transverse flute in his oeuvre as well as his publication of a treatise on playing the flute, published in 1759 in Dutch and in French. His advanced technique comes to the fore in his compositions, and the trio sonata performed here is an impressive example of his art. It is hard to understand why so little of his output is available on disc. The set of sonatas from which the one performed here is taken, definitely deserves a complete recording. It makes curious for the other parts of his oeuvre.

The recording by Postscript is the result of the circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic. The performers had the time to focus on developing, studying and performing a programme in a line-up which allowed for a performance under the existing rules, even with an audience. The programme has been put together carefully, and gives a very good impression of music life in the Republic during the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The performances are superb; it is hard to imagine better interpretations. They are a perfect case for the composers included here; each of them deserves more interest than they have received to date. I hope that this disc will have a wide impact and stimulate other performers to explore music written in the Republic in the baroque period. As a bonus, all performers play instruments made in the Netherlands, either originals or copies. That only increases the importance of his release.

Johan van Veen (© 2024)

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