BAROQUR FESTIVAL (Capella Istropolitana/ Gunter Appenheimer/ Richard Edlinger) (Naxos: 8.550104)
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The third disc in the Naxos Baroque series isdevoted principally to music by Telemann, Handel and Vivaldi. The collectionopens, however, with music that has won enormous popularity in recent years,the Canon and Gigue by the Nuremberg composer Johann Pachelbel. The Canonconsists of a series of 28 variations over a short repeated bass figure, scoredfor three violins and basso continuo. Pachelbel, among the most distinguishedProtestant composers of his time in Germany, was born in Nuremberg and returnedthere in 1695 as organist of the principal church of the city, having rejectedan earlier invitation to move to Oxford.
Giuseppe Sammartini, brother of the betterknown Giovanni Battista Sammartini, was one of the eight sons of a Frenchoboist and his Italian wife and was born in Milan in 1695. With his brothers heperformed as an oboist and after 1728 made his home in England, where he waswell known as a performer and as a composer, serving as music master to thePrincess of Wales and her children from 1736. He had a strong influence onEnglish oboe-playing and his compositions, published posthumously, were held ingreat esteem for a considerable time. The slow movement of his F major RecorderConcerto, in the key of A minor, is a gently pastoral Siciliano.
It is in relatively recent years that AntonioVivaldi has been given something of his due. Born in Venice in 1678, the son ofa musician, he became a priest, teaching the violin and later serving as masterof music at the Ospedale della Pieta, one of the tour charitable foundationsestablished in Venice for theeducation of girls, whether orphans, illegitimate or indigent, and boasting thestrongest musical traditions. Vivaldi's employment at the Pieta wasintermittent, but involved him, by an agreement of 1723, in the provision oftwo concertos a month for his pupils, further swelling a body of work that wasalready considerable. He was, at the same time, involved in work in theopera-house, as composer, performer and manager, and added significantly to therepertoire of church music. As a violinist he possessed a phenomenal technique,the wonder of all who saw and heard him, and may be credited with significantdevelopments in the form of the solo concerto.
The present collection includes five excerptsfrom longer compositions by Vivaldi. The first is taken from a concerto for solo violin, strings andcontinuo published in Amsterdam in 1729/30 as the first in a set of six suchconcertos. The second is the slow movement of one of the four A minor concertosVivaldi wrote for the cello, and the third a movement from a C major concertowritten for flautino, now generally thought to be a sopranino recorder. Thefourth excerpt is taken from a C minor concerto for alto recorder and the fifthfrom a concerto for oboe now transcribed for trumpet.
Georg Philipp Telemann, god-father of Bach'sson Carl Philipp Emanuel, was director of music in Hamburg for the greater partof his career, controlling the music in the five principal city churches andproviding a prolific supply of further compositions for sacred and secular,professional and amateur use. The first of the four excerpts included in thepresent collection consists of the first and fourth movement of the concerto hew rote for solo trumpet and the second is the third movement of a G minorconcerto for two violins. The third excerpt is the first movement of a B flatconcerto for trumpet and the final one an Allegro from a concerto for two hornsincluded in the Musique de table published in Hamburg in 1733.
The first of two items by Handel is anarrangement of a recorder sonata published in London in 1730 and the second isa movement from the first of his twelve Opus 6 Concerti Grossi, scored forstrings and continuo and written in 1739 for immediate publication, unlikeearlier sets of concertos and sonatas that represent more haphazard forms ofanthology. By the 1730s Handel was firmly established in London, afterchildhood and adolescence in his native Halle, followed by a brief period ofwork as a musician at the opera in Hamburg and a longer time spent in Italy,where he had first-hand experience of Italian opera. It was as a composer ofItalian opera that he had first visited London in 1710, after taking immediateleave of absence from his new master, the Elector of Hanover, and it was in thesame capacity that he settled there in 1712. From 1739 he turned his attentionmore fully to English oratorio, a happy combination of Italianate music withwords and stories eminently satisfactory to Protestant England. It is the samefelicitous and melodic Italian style that prevails in his instrumentalcompositions.
Johann Sebastian Bach, a movement from whoseBrandenburg Concerto No.1 for two horns, three oboes, bassoon, strings andcontinuo is included in the collection, like Handel went some way towardscombining the musical influences of Italy, France and Germany, the last, in hiscase, predominating. An organist by early training and family background, hewas employed from 1717 to 1723 as Court Kapellmeister to Prince Leopold ofAnhalt-Coethen, a period devoted largely to the composition of instrumentalmusic, before moving to Leipzig as Cantor at the Thomasschule, where he spentthe rest of his life. The Brandenburg Concertos, a set of six orchestral worksfor varied forces, were completed by 1721 and dedicated to Christian Ludwig,Margrave of Brandenburg, in Berlin, a prince from whom Bach might have hopedfor preferment. The second movement of the first Brandenburg Concerto, markedAdagio, makes use only of three oboes, a solo violin, intended for the violinopiccolo, a smaller form of the instrument, strings, bassoon and continuo.
The Capella Istropolitana was founded in 1983by members of the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, at first as a chamberorchestra and then as an orchestra large enough to tackle the standardclassical repertoire. Based in Bratislava, its name drawn from the ancient namestill preserved in the Academia Istropolitana, the historic university establishedin the Slovak and one-time Hungarian capital by Matthias Corvinus, theorchestra works principally in the recording studio. Recordings by theorchestra on the Naxos label include The Best of Baroque Music, Bach'sBrandenburg Concertos, fifteen each of Mozart's and Haydn's symphonies as wellas works by Handel, Vivaldi and Telemann.
The Austrian conductor Richard Edlinger wasborn in Bregenz in 1958 and directed his first concerts f t the age ofseventeen. He completed his studies at the Vienna Academy in conducting andcomposition in 1982, by which time he had already acquired considerableprofessional experience. He was the youngest finalist in the 1983 GuidoCantelli Conductors' Competition at La Scala, Milan. Since 1986 RichardEdlinger has been Artistic Director of the Capella Istropolitana, an orchestrawith which he has undertaken regular tours in Europe.