LABELS: DG Archiv
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Musica Baltica
WORKS: Works by Meder, Luetkeman, Albrici, Vierdanck,
PERFORMER: Musica Antiqua Köln/Reinhard Goebel
CATALOGUE NO: 459 619-2
This is a fascinating rediscovery of a musical culture round the Baltic fringe. If few of the names are familiar to you, neither are they to New Grove nor to the current CD catalogue. Some are a revelation. Two violins, bassoon and continuo adopt leaping brass figurations before two trumpets enter, with drum-like scrubbing in the bass – Vincenzo Albrici’s stirring ceremonial music for Queen Christina of Sweden’s mid-17th century court. Johann Valentin Meder pokes cruel fun at ‘The Polish Beggar’ in a sonata of 1689: a chorale melody surrounded by pizzicato; an aria pulsing with repeated plucked chords alternating with gaunt unisons – an astonishing sound.
Textures are generally richer and denser than those of further south – five parts or more. Violas share interest with violins: there is much happening at every register. A sonata by Dietrich Becker is particularly attractive, the score with few bar lines, generating rhythmic fluidity in performance. Johann Fischer’s setting of the Passion Chorale is another gem.
Adventuring where no-one has gone before is risky. Medner’s ‘Battle Sonata’ is waged over interminably dull harmony; late baroque strings are rather assertive for early viol consort music. But I greatly enjoyed this 80 minutes of completely unknown music. George Pratt