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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



Johan Henrik FREITHOFF (1713-1767)
Chamber Works

Notturno in B flat
Sonata a flauto traverso solo in G major
Sonata 2 / Trio in G major
Sonata a violino solo in E major
Notturno a tres in E major
Sonata a tres in A major
Trio in E major
Trio in D major
Norwegian Baroque Orchestra Soloists, Ketil Haughsand
Rec: February 2001 Fannrem Church, Norway.
SIMAX PSC 1220 [76.44]


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As a reviewer of classical recordings, there are several main pleasures: hearing great works performed by great performers, hearing familiar works performed with new insight by young performers, and, much rarer, discovering music by unknown or forgotten composers. This disc offers a chance to do the latter - discover the chamber music of a little-known, and barely recorded Norwegian composer, Johan Henrik Freithoff.

Freithoff worked for a few years as "horn blower" for Jean Gastone, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and also travelled widely, including to Constantinople. But on his return to Kristiansand in 1742, he was out of work, and applied for a job as a musician with the Danish court, where he became "Court Violinist Extraordinary". Yet his real desire was to work in the foreign ministry, and he did so beginning in 1746, until the end of his life. He never gave up playing music, and performed concerts occasionally, and also translated books from English to Danish.

Freithoff’s music is chronologically in the baroque period, but it is much more forward-looking than many other composers of the time. It leans clearly toward the rococo. While the early works are for a solo instrument and basso continuo, the later trio sonatas are really string trios. This music is joyful and relaxing. There is no thunder or lightning, but there is a true feeling of music composed for pleasure, as opposed to music written on commission. The Affetuoso of the E major string trio shows just this tone and feeling. Its subtle melodies and uncomplicated counterpoint are pleasant to the ear, while it gives off a true sense of passion, though restrained.

This is a very interesting disc, one which sheds new light on an unknown composer, and fills a gap between the baroque and classical periods. This is neither baroque music nor truly rococo, but something that sits on the fence between the two. The performance is excellent, and this is a worthy discovery for those curious to discover unknown music.

Kirk McElhearn

 


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