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German Violin Virtuosi of 17th Century
(Biber, Boddecker and Walther) and harpsichord works by Froberger and Muffat
Thomas Pietsch (baroque violin) Bob van Asperen (harpsichord & organ)
Christophorus CHR 77222. 63'20".

This is a splendid recital of 17th century extravagance, music veering again and again between moving expressiveness and showy display, with surprises all the way. Walther's serenata or 'little violinistic pleasure garden' has the players imitate various musical instruments, including a guitar, bagpipe and an organ tremulant. Tremendous fun. His more serious Sonata in C is eloquent and exciting. Biber, the master of scordatura is represented by two sonatas, that in D tuned a-e-a-d, the other in A minor a-e-a-e, each allowing special sounds, noticeable particularly in double stopping. Each is in four movements played continuously. The violinist, who shares his enthusiasm with us in informative liner notes, writes that Biber 'never failed to unite sweetness and boldness - which other composer soars to such heights in concluding a work?' Boddecker's D minor sonata is one of the earliest, its movements alternating between allegro and adagio, with a presto and an Alla Francesca, quite a roller-coaster of sudden contrasts.

There are two keyboard solos, placed at just the right points in the recital. Froberger's Suite no. 6 has a marvellous Tombeau for King Ferdinand IV and Muffat is represented by a grand Passacaglia, which sounds magnificent on Bob van Asperen's copy of a 1624 Ruckers harpsichord. He also varies his accompaniments by playing several items on a lovely chamber organ. Thomas Pietsch, distinguished Hamburg exponent of the baroque violin, is as impressive as any now before the public - and we now have several in UK who excel in this distinctive violinistic skill, characterised by high virtuosity with limited use of vibrato, which demands accurate intonation and certainly receives it here.

An auspicious CD of little known, but greatly entertaining, repertoire. Try it, even if you are not already as captivated by 17th Century instrumental music as myself - I think you'll enjoy it.


Peter Grahame Woolf


Peter Grahame Woolf

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