Heinichen: Concertos & Overtures

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COMPOSERS: Heinichen
LABELS: Vanguard Passacaille
WORKS: Concertos & Overtures
PERFORMER: Il Fondamento/Paul Dombrecht (oboe)
Johann David Heinichen (1683-1729) studied in Leipzig, where he knew Telemann, and later worked in Venice, where he met Vivaldi; for the last 12 years of his short life he was director of the famous court orchestra in Dresden. His music was little-known until 1993, when Musica Antiqua Köln brought out a two-disc set on DG Archiv devoted chiefly to his brilliantly extrovert, and very Vivaldian, ‘concertos for many instruments’. Now two smaller ensembles add to our knowledge of his orchestral output, the Flemish Il Fondamento by mixing concertos with a couple of French-style suites, the Bremen-based Fiori Musicali with a varied selection of concertos which are all but one in minor keys.


Il Fondamento’s disc is a real disappointment: the playing seems stuck in a kind of passive read-through mode; Paul Dombrecht’s solo oboe playing is sometimes painfully out of tune; and a resonant church acoustic makes everything heavy and glutinous. Fiori Musicali offers playing of greater subtlety of phrasing and inflection, notably from the flautist Laurence Dean, and is better recorded. Of the two discs, its is certainly preferable. But to hear Heinichen at his best, seek out the Archiv set, still in a class of its own. Anthony Burton