WORKS: Sonate e Balletti
PERFORMER: Musica Fiata/Roland Wilson
CATALOGUE NO: 999 878-2
From decades of loitering in record shops, a timeline of the Schmelzer revival: it started with the odd showpiece turning up in those hey-nonny-no knees-ups of everything from ‘Greensleeves’ to Zelenka. Next, it was all aboard for those tours of the ‘Courts and Cities’, MCd by the likes of Harnoncourt – the Concentus Musicus’s Schmelzer survey of 1969 is still a lively listen. In the Eighties and Nineties you could choose between fiddle wizardry, from Goebel to Manze, and high-stepping trumpetry, from Duftschmid to Pickett. Excellent, mostly. But: enough, already.
The next stop has to be ‘The Schmelzer Experience’. His imperial and ecclesiastical masters enjoyed these quirky, colourful, dancing, virtuoso sonatas and suites at plays, operas, balls and banquets – not, surely, in vacuo, one after another, for an hour plus. We need a Parrott or a McCreesh to give these jewels a chance to shine again in something like their original settings. I’m not sure we need another mostly competent but overlong traversal, recorded in an unflattering, too distant perspective (well, maybe it was best to put that scrawny violino piffarato as far away as possible). There are good things here, but: been there, done that. Nick Morgan