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A Rococo Flirt: Light-hearted and frivolous songs
Andreas HAMMERSCHMIDT (1611-1675)

Die Kunst des Küssens [2:23]
Johann Philipp KRIEGER (1649-1725)

Ein Küssgen in Ehren [2:00]
Im Dunkeln ist gut munkeln [2:06]
Karl Heinrich GRAUN (1703-1759)

Das Töchterchen [1:12]
Johann Valentin RATHGEBER (1682-1750)

Von den Weibsbildern [2:57]
Johann Philipp KRIEGER (1649-1725)

Die schlimmen Männer [1:14]
Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767]

Geld [0:48]
Johann Philipp KRIEGER (1649-1725)

Coridon in Nöten [2:15]
Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767]

Die ungekämmte Phillis [1:11]
SPERONTES (1705-1750)

Blaustrumpflied [3:21]
Johann Valentin GÖRNER (1702-1762)

Der ordentliche Hausstand [2:25]
Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767]

Das Frauenzimmer [1:39]
Ein reiches Weib [1:35]
Willem de FESCH (1687-1757)

Tu fai la superbetta [3:07]
Johann Valentin GÖRNER (1702-1762)

Der Kuss [2:24]
SPERONTES (1705-1750)

Liebe mich redlich [2:36]
Jean-Baptiste de BOUSSET (1662-1725)

Air à boire [1:00]
Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767]

Die Lieb und auch die Flöh [1:08]
Jean-Jacques ROUSSEAU (1712-1778)

Edith Mathis (soprano), Benno Kusche (bass-baritone), Fritz Neumeyer (harpsichord), Reinhold Johannes Buhl (cello).
Recorded Gütersloh, Germany, December 1961
DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI 82876 70033 2 [38:46]
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This reissue is not the place to come looking for musical masterpieces but it makes for enjoyable listening all the same. Essentially it is a collection of (mainly) German popular songs of courtship and pleasure from the seventeenth and (mainly) eighteenth centuries.

Most of the composers - with the obvious exception of Telemann - are probably known only to specialists in the Baroque. In most cases they are better known, even to specialists, for other more ‘serious’ aspects of their work. The Bohemian Andreas Hammerschmidt, for example, was an important figure as an organist at the Johanniskirche in Zittau and as composer of hymns and other religious music; but he also published 68 secular songs in the three parts of his Weltliche Oden (1642-49). Graun is becoming relatively familiar as a composer of operas under the patronage of Frederick II; Krieger, who was Kappelmeister at Bayreuth and later organist at the court in Halle, studied in Venice and Rome and was a prolific composer of cantatas and operas in German and Italian. Rathgeber is best known for his church music, but also published three volumes of secular songs in his Tafel-Confect (1733-46). Perhaps only the Frenchman de Bousset was particularly renowned as a composer of songs – he composed some 900!

What we have here, in fact, is a sampling – a very brief sampling – of a still-neglected tradition of popular music, which later performers have still to explore very fully. This 1961 recording catches Mathis at the very beginning of her glittering career; Kusche was already a more established figure at that date. Both, of course, had distinguished careers on the operatic stage and something of the opera singer’s capacity for vocal characterisation marks their work here. There are some delightful pieces. Hammerschmidt’s reflections on the art of kissing are charmingly performed by Kusche and he gives an attractively conspiratorial quality to the praise of ‘whispering in the dark’ in one of Krieger’s pieces (‘Im Dunkeln ist gut munklen’). Mathis’s voice has a splendid youthful sparkle, not least in Görner’s ‘Tu fai la superbetta’ and ‘Liebe mich redlich’ which is attributed to ‘Sperontes’. The totally inadequate sleeve-notes (one brief paragraph) fail to identify this as the pen-name of the poet and librettist Johann Sigismund Scholze, whose Singende Muse an der Pleisse (four volumes, 1736-1745) contains some 250 songs.

Kusche, on the whole, is more assured, perhaps more confident than the young Mathis, and both are well supported by Neumeyer and Buhl. There are many things to object to here: the documentation is appallingly poor by modern standards, there being only the briefest of notes, no song texts or translations; the playing time is well under 40 minutes. And yet … this is a fascinating glimpse of a musical landscape not yet adequately represented on CD. Recommended, despite all the shortcomings of its presentation.

Glyn Pursglove



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