COMPOSERS: Benda,CPE Bach,Frederick the Great,Graun & Quantz
WORKS: Sonatas and trios by CPE Bach, Benda, Frederick the Great, Graun & Quantz
PERFORMER: Collegium Musicum 90: Simon Standage (director/violin), Rachel Brown (flute), Micaela Comberti (violin/viola), Jane Coe (cello), Lars Ulrik Mortensen (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 0541 DDD
Hailed in his lifetime as the model of enlightened despotism, Frederick the Great has always been signally attractive to the myth-makers. This enjoyable collection of chamber pieces illustrates the high quality of music-making at that legendary Prussian court, showing that Frederick was at least no mean musician himself – as flautist and composer (his workmanlike C major flute sonata is given here).
The monarch encouraged the Italian rather than the French style, but all the music here – formally elegant but dramatically expressive – is characterised by a distinctively German affective sensibility: CPE Bach, the towering musical presence at the court, greatly admired the ability of the violinist Franz Benda to draw tears from his audience.
The music of both Bach and Benda is represented, along with that of Johann Quantz (the royal flute teacher) and Johann Graun (another distinguished violinist). Collegium Musicum 90, directed by Simon Standage, demonstrates period-instrument playing at its very best: not only intimate, incisive, and sometimes abrasively invigorating, but also with a transparent purity of tone and cantabile that Benda himself might have applauded. William Humphreys-Jones