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