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The Berlin Album

Johannes Pramsohler (violin); Ensemble Diderot (Audax)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

The Berlin Album
Trio Sonatas by Benda, Graun, Kirnberger, Princess Anna Amalia of Prussia, Schulz and Janitsch
Johannes Pramsohler (violin); Ensemble Diderot
Audax ADX13726   68:20 mins


It is perhaps noteworthy that this album contains neither a single bar of flute music, nor any contribution from Quantz, CPE Bach and the flute playing Frederick the Great. This is a purely string programme featuring, in all but a single instance pieces which claim world premiere recording status. Ensemble Diderot has already released Dresden, London and Paris anthologies on this label, and very rewarding they are, too. This newcomer is no exception.

Of especial merit are trio sonatas by the melodrama writing Georg Anton Benda, and Johann Gottlieb Graun, one-time leader of Frederick the Great’s orchestra. Their musical invention is lively and plentifully endowed with galant gesture. The north German Empfindsamer Stil or sensitive style, of which CPE Bach was the master is almost entirely absent from these trios.

A trio sonata by Johann Philipp Kirnberger, a violinist in Frederick’s orchestra, strikes a more academic note, perhaps betraying the discipline of his former teacher, JS Bach. A greater rarity here is a short Fugue by Frederick’s sister, Princess Anna Amalia of Prussia. Even if she was no more than a competent composer, she recognised the outstanding gifts of CPE Bach and, but for her neatly copied collections of the music of Johann Gottlieb Graun, much of it might have been lost. Trios by Johann Abraham Peter Schulz, who played an important part in the cultivation of the German Lied and Johann Gottlieb Janitsch, a bass player in Frederick’s orchestra completes a vibrant picture of chamber musical life in and around the royal Berlin residences.


Nicholas Anderson