Chamber sonatas and songs
Le Banquet Céleste/Damien Guillon (countertenor)
Alpha Classics ALPHA 725 71:04 mins
Twenty years after his death in 1714, almost all of Erlebach’s manuscripts were destroyed by fire, and the composer, who spent his entire creative life as Kapellmeister at the Court of Thuringia, became an historical footnote. All credit, then, to Damien Guillon and Le Banquet Céleste for rescuing this little-known master.
On the evidence of this recording Erlebach was a master, both as a songwriter and an instrumental composer. Although he never travelled beyond Thuringia, it is clear from the two trio sonatas here (from a set of six published in Nuremberg in the 1690s) that Erlebach was well aware of what happening musically south of the Alps. Each suite opens with a three section sonata movement that is followed by a set of dances. The Sarabande from the Second Sonata would melt the stoniest heart, and the gigues that end both works seem to kick up their heels with delight.
Damien Guillon, who directs, is also the excellent countertenor soloist in a selection of Erlebach’s songs – settings of simple texts that the composer described as ‘moral and political [secular] arias’. To a modern ear they are much richer than that dry description suggests. ‘Endlich Ruh’ und Glück erleben’ with its sinuous orchestral accompaniment seems to usher you into a Baroque opera house, while ‘Seine Not recht überlegen’ has all the majesty of a lament for the stage.