WORKS: Dresden Concertos
PERFORMER: Musica Antiqua Köln/Reinhard Goebel
CATALOGUE NO: 437 549-2 DDD
If proof were needed that there are still treasures of Baroque music just waiting to be discovered, then this is it. These astonishing concertos by a virtually forgotten contemporary of JS Bach have been lying forgotten on library shelves for more than two centuries. Johann David Heinichen (1683-1729) was Kapellmeister at the court in Dresden when that city was the artistic centre of Germany, and these works were designed to show off the skills of the internationally famous instrumental virtuosi whose music-making pleased the ear of the Saxon Polish king, Augustus the Strong.
They are scored for multiple groupings of soloists, in a wide variety of combinations: triple recorders, double horns with double flutes, double flutes with double oboes, sometimes with violin, cello and even theorbo soloists, sometimes without, producing a wide variety of timbres and instrumental colours. Vivaldi, whose concertos were frequently played at Dresden and whom Heinichen visited when he was in Venice, is clearly an influence. But there’s also an individuality and inventiveness that are Heinichen’s own – sample the second movement of the Concerto in C with its imitation of bagpipes by strings and oboes.
The performances by Musica Antiqua Köln and Reinhard Goebel are splendidly energetic and stylish, and beautifully recorded. This set is far more deserving of attention than the apparently endless new recordings of the Brandenburg Concertos or The Four Seasons, and should give pleasure to anyone who has become jaded with those over-exposed masterpieces. There is unlikely to be a more important or enjoyable Baroque release this year. David Michaels