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Baroque Chamber Music
Johann Wilhelm HERTEL (1727-1789)
Concerto à 5 in D major, for trumpet, oboe, violin, cello and continuo [13:55]
Francesco MARINI (1672-1732)
Sinfonia in D major (overture to Hydaspe fedele), for trumpet, flute, oboe, violin, cello and continuo  (1710) [3:42]
PRENTZEL (fl.c.1670)
Sonata in C major, for trumpet, cello and continuo (?1675) [4:57]
Giuseppe TORELLI (1658-1709)
Sinfonia in D major, for trumpet, flute, oboe, violin, cello and continuo [3:25]
Gottfried FINGER (c.1660-1730)
Sonata No.3 in C major, for trumpet, violin and continuo [8:50]
Johann Christian BACH (1735-1782)
Quintetto in G major, Op.11:2, for flute, oboe, violin, cello and continuo [11:00]
Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Concerto in D major, for trumpet, oboe, violin and continuo [13:02]
Leipziger Bach-Collegium: (Ludwig Güttler (trumpet), Karl-Heinz Passin (flute), Klaus-Peter Gütz (oboe), Eberhard Palm (violin), Matthias Pfaender (cello), Hans-Jürgen Schmidt (double-bass), Friedrich Kircheis (harpsichord, organ))/Ludwig Güttler
rec. 8-10 February 1994, Lukaskirche, Dresden
BERLIN CLASSICS 0013892 [59:25]


There is a good deal of quite interesting music to be heard here – if no really major works – and Güttler is certainly a trumpeter of considerable technique. His colleagues in the Leipziger Bach-Collegium are obviously accomplished musicians too. But the whole doesn’t really satisfy.

Güttler hits all the high notes with sureness and panache; at times, indeed, his playing is quite dazzling. But that may perhaps be part of the problem. In a piece such as Torelli’s Sinfonia - which is essentially a trumpet concerto even if not so designated - Güttler’s brilliance of sound serves a real and aesthetically effective purpose. However, in some of the other pieces recorded here, Güttler’s sheer musical assertiveness, the sheer brightness and punch of his sound, creates a real imbalance in the musical discourse. Too rarely does this music-making fully achieve that blend of instrumental colours that is one of the particular pleasures of baroque chamber music. In Telemann’s lovely Concerto, for example, the trumpet seems to be constantly straining at the leash, unable to be comfortable for long as one element in a three-way dialogue between trumpet, violin and oboe. Some of this may be the fault of the recording balance; whatever the reason it makes the music sound unbalanced. Real ‘conversation’ is lost, as the trumpet forces its partners too far into the background. There is a certain relief to be had when, in the Siciliano which constitutes the third movement of the work, the trumpet is silent and violin and oboe can truly be heard, their musical conversation to the fore at last.

The music making up the programme of this CD is, in many cases, relatively unfamiliar and of real interest. It is always fascinating to hear the work of Gottfried Finger, a composer of real talent, whose best work is a rewarding fusion of Northern European and Italian elements. There is a distinctly Italianate quality to the lengthy melodic lines of some of the writing in his Sonata No.3.

The overture to Mancini’s opera Hydaspe fedele, first performed at the Haymarket Theatre in London in 1710 - with scenery painted by the Venetian Marco Rizzi - is a charming, if brief, piece. Jacob Tonson published a bilingual libretto in London in 1712; the opera starred the great castrato Niccolino Grimaldi. It was Grimaldi’s battle with a Lion in this opera which provoked Addison to great mirth - for all his admiration of Grimaldi - in an essay in The Spectator of 15 March 1711. In this overture, the rhythms of the Leipziger Bach-Collegium have a spring and impetus which they don’t always have elsewhere. Mancini, an important figure in the music of Naples, and far beyond, still seems to attract less attention – and less praise – than he deserves. It would be fascinating to hear, not just the overture, but the whole opera.

Though there are things to enjoy here, this is a CD which doesn’t quite fulfil the promise contained in its cast list of performers and composers. Not a bad disc, but slightly disappointing.

Glyn Pursglove


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