Stölzel: German Chamber Cantatas, Vol. 1

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COMPOSERS: Stölzel
LABELS: CPO
WORKS: German Chamber Cantatas, Vol. 1
PERFORMER: Dorothee Mields (soprano), Jan Kobow (tenor); Les Amis de Philippe/Ludger Rémy
CATALOGUE NO: 999 814-2
Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel’s career took him to Italy and Prague before he settled down as Kapellmeister at Gotha. One might expect, therefore, a composer of cosmopolitan outlook, as this first instalment of his secular cantatas confirms. He has a Handelian ability to startle, with original ideas that nevertheless suit text and mood to perfection. It comes as no surprise to learn that he was deeply admired by Bach. These eight works are immensely and richly varied: Stölzel has a nice line in colours (theorbo and cello obbligatos), pregnant pauses, chromatic harmonies, gentle pastoralism and daring changes of tessitura.

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Taking his cue from the texts, conductor Ludger Rémy splits many works between his two solo voices. Dorothee Mields sings beautifully, as convincing in the gorgeous opening aria of Aurora weinete as she is in arias of completely different mood, like the angry, submissive close to Die grausame, doch schöne Sylvia. There are one or two pieces that seem four-square – the tenor’s aria in this same cantata is an example, rather reinforced by the last line of the text as printed in the booklet ‘I cannot blame da capo’ – and I don’t, really – but these are the exceptions, and Jan Kobow sings everything smoothly and commandingly. Les Amis de Philippe offer stylish contributions. How sad that Stölzel’s operas have all been lost. Stephen Pettitt