Meder, Luetkeman, Albrici, Vierdanck, etc

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COMPOSERS: Albrici,etc,Luetkeman,Meder,Vierdanck
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.

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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.

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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