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Gottfried Heinrich STŐLZEL (1690-1749)
Cantatas for Pentecost, 1737

Werdet voll Geistes [9:53]
Siehe da, eine Hütte Gottes [9:21]
Wollte Gott, daß alle das Volk weissagete [8:14]
Daran ist erschienen die Liebe Gottes gegen uns [12:53]
So denn ihr, die ihre arg seid [10:17]
Lehre mich tun nach deinem Wohlgefallen [9:30]
Cantata for Quasimodogeniti Sunday, 1732

Er heißet Friedefürst [6:47]
Dorothee Mields, soprano
Martin Wőlfel, alto

Jan Kobow, tenor
Christian Immler, bass
Telemanisches Collegium Michaelstein/Rudger Rémy
Rec. Evangelical Church of St. Bonifatius, June 23-26, 2002 DDD
CPO 999 876-2
[68:11]

 

Gottfried Heinrich Stőlzel was educated in Italy, and spent most of his career in the service of the court at Gotha. In 1715, the position of music director at the court of Schwarzberg-Sondershausen became vacant and remained so for several years. Stőlzel was a candidate, who because of his relative obscurity in the musical world at the time, was not appointed. The composer’s loss was perhaps posterity’s gain, as the reigning prince later came to regret his decision, and commissioned Stőlzel to compose nearly four hundred works for the court. For reasons that border on the suspicious, most of the composer’s immense output from Gotha is lost, and thus, it is the Sondershausen music that provides us with the majority of Stőlzel’s extant output.

Once again, in this collection of cantatas for Pentecost, Ludger Rémy proves just what a master he is at discovering and bringing dormant music to life. With the utmost skill and polish, Rémy conducts a first-rate ensemble in tight, clean and elegant performances of some truly gorgeous music.

The exceptional appeal of these cantatas must lie in the Italian training of the composer. The rich harmonic structure belies the undeniable influence of the sixteenth century Italian madrigal. This makes for a much more heightened emotional expression than the more staid German harmonic language of say a Pachelbel or Johann Bach (not Sebastian). The end result is a style rich in melody, and at times ravishing in harmony.

Rémy performs this music one voice to a part, which despite some rather thick orchestrations in some works, balances very well. And what singing! The maestro has assembled four soloists of phenomenal ability. Of especial merit is the effortless, crystalline singing of tenor Jan Kobow, who approaches these works with a grace and ease that I have not witnessed in some time. Martin Wőlfel’s rich and resonant countertenor is a delight to hear, and Dorothee Mields and Christian Immler are also deserving of singular mention for their solid contributions. In short, this quartet would be any conductor’s dream team.

The Telemannisches Collegium Michaelstein is as taut and well-tuned a baroque ensemble as is available on the world market today. They play with a tremendous vigor and with an underlying rhythmic vitality that propels the music forward at a perfect pace.

There is no note of music on this disc that is not pure pleasure, however, there are two works that are of particular merit for their exquisite beauty. The opening cantata, Werdet voll Geistes leaps out with its joyous lilting melodies, and the final work on the program, Er heißet Friedefürst is beautiful beyond words. This recording does exactly what a program of this sort should: make me instantly seek out more by the same composer and performers. Ludger Rémy continues to make one fine contribution after another to the corpus of fine recordings. Long may he and CPO, who have the good sense to promote and issue these discs, prosper.

Program notes are superb, and as usual, CPO have given us sonics that are above reproach. Recommended without a moment’s hesitation.

Kevin Sutton



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