WORKS: Salve regina in A; Salve regina in E flat; Chori angelici laetantes; Sinfonia in D; Sinfonia in F; Fuga & Grave in G minor
PERFORMER: Barbara Bonney (soprano), Bernarda Fink (mezzo-soprano)Musica Antiqua Köln/Reinhard Goebel
CATALOGUE NO: 453 435-2
In the mid-18th century, Johann Adolf Hasse was one of Europe’s most celebrated composers, feted especially for the flowing, elegant vocal lines that graced his numerous and popular operas. By the time of his death in 1783, however, he had been largely forgotten and his work sank into a 200-year-long obscurity from which it is only now beginning to emerge.
Reinhard Goebel’s keen enthusiasm for this resurrected music is understandable, although his claim that the three vocal works on this disc ‘are sublime in anyone’s language’ strikes me as extreme hyperbole. The early Salve regina in A and the motet Chori angelici laetantes are spirited, declamatory pieces, sung with persuasive intensity by Bernarda Fink. She is joined by Barbara Bonney for the later (but no less turbulent) Salve regina in E flat – ‘a due voci’. The three orchestral selections here include the overture to Hasse’s best-known opera, Cleofide, and a dramatic Fugue in G minor that one source attributes instead to Franz Xaver Richter. Musica Antiqua Köln plays throughout with a typically fierce, emphatic vigour; it certainly galvanises the music but also lends it a brusque edge that eventually becomes rather tiresome. Graham Lock