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18th Century Music from Manuscripts
Johann Christoph MANN (1726-1782)

Sonata per il Cembalo No.5 in D major
Sonata per il Cembalo No.3 in F major
Sonata per il Cembalo No.1 in A major
Georg Christoph WAGENSEIL (1715-1777)

Divertimento da Cembalo Vol.1 No.6 in A major
Roderick E Simpson (performer)
Series A 18th Century Music form Manuscripts Volume 1
INITIUM CD A001 [62.40]

Johann Christoph MANN (1726-1782)
Sonata per il Cembalo No.4 in E flat major
Sonata per il Cembalo No.2 in G major
Sonata per il Cembalo No.6 in B flat major
Georg Christoph WAGENSEIL (1715-1777)

Divertimento da Cembalo Vol.1 No.4 in E flat major
Roderick E Simpson (performer)
Series A 18th Century Music form Manuscripts Volume 2
INITIUM CD A002 [70.11]

Georg Matthias MONN (1717 - 1750)
Concerto in A major for Fortepiano and String Orchestra
Concerto in B minor for harpsichord and String Orchestra
Concerto in B flat major for organ and String Orchestra
Roderick E. Simpson editor and synthesist, with "I Suoni Assaggiati"
Series A 18th Century Music form Manuscripts Volume 3
INITIUM CD-A003 [59.39]

Georg Matthias MONN (1717-1750)

Concerto for Harpsichord and String orchestra in G minor
Concerto for Harpsichord, Flute, Violin and Basso in B flat major
Sonata for Organ in G major No.1 (with alternative first movement)
Georg Christoph WAGENSEIL (1715-1777)

Concerto for Harpsichord and String orchestra in C major
Johann Christoph MANN (1726-1782)

Concert Piece for Fortepiano in B flat major No.1
I Suoni Assaggiati
Roderick E Simpson (performer)
Series A 18th Century Music form Manuscripts Volume 4
INITIUM CD A004 [68.58]

A Viennese Garden Palace Concert – 1786
Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)

Mechanical Clock 7 and 9 pm
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Der Schauspieldirektor – Overture K486
Symphony in C major K338 with fragment of Menuetto
Johann Christoph MANN (1726-1782)

Minuetto and Trio No.2 in F major for harpsichord
Minuetto and Trio No.3 in F major for harpsichord
Giuseppe SARTI (1729-1802)

Symphony in D major
Martin y SOLER (1754-1806)

Una Cosa Rara – Introduction and No.1
I Suoni Assaggiati
Roderick E Simpson (performer)
Series A 18th Century Music form Manuscripts Volume 5
INITIUM CD A005 [67.54]

Georg Christoff WAGENSEIL (1715 - 1777)
Six Divertimentos for Cembalo Book 1 Nos. 1-6 (1750)
Divertimento No.1 in A major
Divertimento No.2 in B flat major
Divertimento No.3 in C major
Divertimento No 4 in E flat major
Divertimento No.5 in D major
Divertimento No 6 in A major
Roderick E. Simpson (performer, editor and synthesist)
Series A 18th Century Music form Manuscripts Volume 6
INITIUM CD-A006 [63.22]

Music performances in Church, Opera House Palace, Theatre – Year 1782
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) / Georg Matthias MONN (1717-1750)

Antiphon – organ
Georg Matthias MONN (1717-1750)

Concerto in D major for Organ and Orchestra S15
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Antiphon – Organ
Symphony in C major K75a
Concerto in D major for Piano and Orchestra K175 (1773)
Rondo in D major for piano and Orchestra
Allegretto grazioso
Giuseppe SARTI (1729-1802)

Symphony in C major in S: Benetto (1765)
Roderick E. Simpson, editor and synthesist, Robert M. Vassar - Assistant / Confidant with I Suoni Assaggiati
Series A 18th Century Music form Manuscripts Volume 7
INITIUM CD A007 [73:56]


Initium, presided over by Roderick Simpson, has produced a series of seven discs attempting to restore rare eighteenth century music. He uses a combination of synthesizer and computer and has put to scholarly use the research he has made into performance practice, orchestral layouts, acoustics – sizes of the halls in the main – orchestrations and techniques of the composers involved. If the words synthesizer and computer strike fear into your heart you should know that Simpson is an accomplished musician and has programmed his electronic equipment with care and discretion. True, see below, there are some examples which are unconvincing as projections of musical sound but the aim of these releases is to further understanding of musical style of the period and to that extent they are proselytising documents; I suspect few commercial companies are in a position to research, say, J C Mann’s keyboard works and issue them. An essential component of this is close scrutiny of the original manuscripts and this proves notably valuable when it comes to Mann, Monn and Wagenseil in particular, three composers who have suffered considerable neglect from publishers, let alone recording companies.

Editing and performing, and the use of a synthesiser and computer, allows Simpson appropriate stylistic decision-making. In his Mann-Wagenseil volumes (Nos 1 and 2) we can hear a focal point of his reclamation. Mann’s Cembalo sonatas are striking, from the robust intensity of the D major’s opening Allegro assai, through the harmonic complexities of the same work’s Andante, to the intimacy of the spun line of the Andante Siciliano of the F major. As Simpson shows he is careful to give full expressive weight to Mann’s writing and relishes the considerable pleasures of the St Stephen’s Bell motif that courses through the first movement of the A major. No.4, in E flat major, sports an Aria Scocese that plays on The Harp that Once Through Tara’s Halls and the infectious brio generated is certainly indicative of Mann’s playful authority – and deserving of wide hearing. This whole sonata, with the sparkling trio section of its Minuet, points the way to a proper reappraisal of Mann, as does the witty and digitally demanding B flat major (No.6).

Mann’s brother Georg Matthias Monn – debate has raged about the spelling of the surname for many years and shows no signs of resolution – is known more for his Concerti, bowdlerised though they may have been. Volume 3 is valuable for giving us three beginning with the warmly gallant Fortepiano Concerto with its Scotch snap Andante (though not as simply evocative as the younger James Hook’s memorable keyboard concerto). The Harpsichord Concerto is imbued with little explosive moments and sports a delectable Andante and the Concerto for Organ is notable for a particularly warm and lyric Allegro finale. In all these works I Suoni Assaggiati is the virtual orchestra, synthesized by Simpson. The Harpsichord Concerto in G minor might be better known in its cello transcription – it was in this guise that Jacqueline du Pré made her recording of it, coupled originally with one of Haydn’s. This imposing, lyric and excellently deployed work receives a most understanding traversal here. The organ Concerto features some airy fluty and reedy stops in the first movement and tromba-like ones in the finale. His brother J C Mann is represented by a compellingly colourful and vivacious Concert Piece for Fortepiano – a Menuetto and Trio of real charm and incident.

A composer with whom Simpson clearly feels a strong affinity is Wagenseil, whose 1750 Divertimenti take up the sixth volume in this series. To doubters, who may find the composer a mite generic, Simpson brings accomplished intelligence to bear – with stately, finely articulated opening movements and plenty of expressive elegance – particularly acute in the case of the Minuet and Trio of the A major (No.6). We also get Mozart, of course, with amongst others the C major Symphony K75a which forms the centrepiece of a themed Volume 7, which celebrates the year 1782 (though most of the music here predates that year); it gives an idea of what might have been played, along with 1782’s Rondo in D major that Mozart premiered in Vienna. Monn shows his colours even in this company, his Organ Concerto in D major, provisionally dated to c.1748 being full of rococo gallantry and a grave beauty flooding the Andante. It’s useful to find another under represented figure here, Giuseppe Sarti, whose Symphony in C major has a fine gavotte-like Andante. The fifth volume is a charming recreation of a Viennese Garden Palace Concert of 1786, opening with Haydn’s Mechanical Clock (7 pm). It allows full rein for informed speculation though here the synthesizer and computer are not at their most convincing (the Overture to Der Schauspieldirektor could do with a revamp) though it’s a treat to heart simulated clarini here as it is the light Italian oboe sound in Sarti’s Symphony. Of especial interest is Soler’s splendid Una Cosa Rara.

These seven discs offer a synthesized conspectus of some of the music that flourished in Vienna, and elsewhere, in the eighteenth century. All discs have extensive documentary notes; they’re not the glossy affairs of the majors and presentation is basic but it tells you all you should know. I am sure many readers will be unconvinced by the whole idea of such a realization and indeed some tracks are unsuccessful. But you could do much worse than to encounter music in this form, however sometimes imperfect; at its best this set (all available singly) reveals tantalising things about a whole strata of (particularly) Viennese composition and in doing so broadens and deepens our awareness, and admiration, of it.

Jonathan Woolf


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