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Early Music

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger

Johann Joseph FUX (1660-1741)
Lux Æterna – Sacred Works

Introitus: Requiem Aeternam choraliter
Graduale in Missa pro Defunctis, K146
Kirchensonate in G minor, K320
Ave Regina choraliter
Ave Regina caelorum, K205
Sonata a Santo Sepolcro, K376
Alma Redemptoris Mater, K186
Ave Maria choraliter
Ave Maria, K151
Pastorale, K396
Ad te, Domine levavi, K153
Communio: Lux Æterna choraliter
In expositione funeris: Libera me Domine, K54
Mieke van der Sluis, soprano
Carlos Mena, Alto
Bernhard Lambauer, tenor
Georg Nigl, baritone
Sergio Foresti, bass
Domkantorei Graz (Josef M. Doeller)
Herren der Grazer Choralschola
Cantor: Thomas Wasserfaller
Armonico Tributo Austria
Lorenz Duftschmid, Director
Recorded September 2001, Krieglach, St. Jakob
CPO 999 850-2 [54:24]


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The music of Johann Joseph Fux has never sounded as fine as it does on this new CPO disc of sacred works. Likely better known for his writings on counterpoint than his compositions, Fux wrote enjoyable and architecturally sturdy music a few steps up from the typical baroque fare.

For Fux’s music to create any lasting impression, it needs very sympathetic and exceptional performances. That is exactly what Lorenz Duftschmid and company offer with idiomatic interpretations, incisive rhythmic patterns, pungent period instruments, and a wonderful chorus. Also, the program is quite diverse with works for unaccompanied chorus, vocal soloists, and three strictly instrumental sonatas.

As it happens, the performances are only a part of the disc’s appeal. I have never encountered such superb sound engineering and placement of singers and instruments. Each vocal soloist, choral sub-group, and instrument is given its own space in a multi-layered presentation. This is a soundstage that wants to take us to higher echelons of rapture through upward terracing, and spatial characteristics have never been as expertly planned and executed.

Taking this a step further, one of the most rewarding features of sacred choral music is its ability to figuratively lift us to the heavens. With the new CPO disc, we are constantly on the rise with each piece of music taking us to new heights.

Among the most delectable works is the "Graduale" K146. Both it and the first work are for a cappella forces. "Introitus" is subtle mystery that is taken over in K146 by a higher force of striking beauty, which includes a section for alto soloist. If any performance of music can convince me that heaven exists, the "Graduale" is a viable contender.

The three Fux Sonatas (K320, K376, and K396) are well placed on the program, and Fux imparts an attractive blend of lyricism and austerity to his music. The period instruments have a gorgeous and pungent sound that can’t possibly be matched by their modern counterparts. In case you are wondering about the accuracy and logic of mixing sacred choral and instrumental music, it was common in Fux’s time for both to coexist during a religious service. The instrumental pieces were used as an enticement for the choral music and also when the clergy were moving about within the church.

In conclusion, the music of Fux is not essential listening, but the new CPO disc is a marvel of engineering with performances that are entirely top-rate including the sublime contributions from the five vocal soloists. For these reasons, the disc is urgently recommended to baroque music enthusiasts and audiophiles.

Don Satz

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