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Das Partiturbuch: Instrumental Music at the Courts of 17th Century Germany
Antonio BERTALI (1605-1669) Sonata a 4 in D minor for 2 violins, viola da gamba and bassoon [9:29]; Ciaconna in C major for solo violin [8:45]; Sonata a 3 in G major for 2 violins and bassoon [3:18]
Johann Michael NICOLAI (1629-1685) Sonata a 2 in A minor for violin and viola da gamba [3:36]; Sonata a 2 in C major for violin and bassoon [5:40[
ANON: Ciaconna a 3 in C major for 2 violins and viola da gamba [2:17]
Johann Heinrich SCHMELZER (c. 1623-1680) Sonata variata in D minor for violin and viola da gamba [6:38]
Adam DRESE (c. 1620-1701) Sonata a 3 in A minor for 2 violins and viola da gamba [4:32]; Sonata a 2 in A minor for two violins and viola da gamba [4:10]
Samuel CAPRICORNUS (1628-1665) Ciaconna in D major for violin and viola da gamba [4:17]
Nathanael SCHNITTELBACH (1633-1667) Ciaconna in A major for solo violin [9:36]
Ensemble Echo du Danube/Christian Zincke
rec. Studios of Hessischer Rundfunk, Frankfurt, Germany, 25-28 November 2002.
NAXOS 8.557679 [62:28]


If you are fan of the music of Telemann, this disc may be for you. Iím not, and this isnít. But, having warned you of my bias up-front, letís see what we can make of this. Actually, you might get a better picture of the style if you imagine Telemann crossed with some of the dance spirit, but not the pungency of sound, of Praetorius.

We have a collection of "instrumental music at the courts of 17th century Germany", which was assembled into the Partiturbuch Ludwig by Jacob Ludwig, and presented to a former employer as a birthday present. Ludwig was a court musician and compiler, but not a composer himself. The most represented composer here is Antonio Bertali, who was the Kapellmeister in Vienna, though to my unschooled ears there isnít much to distinguish between him and the other court composers.

The Ensemble Echo du Danube seem committed and capable performers. They manage to sound larger than their small number - seven musicians, most of whom do not play on all tracks. In fact, despite consisting of a viola da gamba, a theorbo, a dulcian (a what? turns out to be a predecessor to the bassoon), along with violin, double harp, organ and harpsichord, the group manages a full, even modern sound. Modern performance technique on historical instruments, to invert the equation of such groups as Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique?

Naxos have obviously assembled an important historical document here. As Ludwig compiled a sampling of the music of his time and place, so we have the opportunity to travel and hear the sounds of German court music in the 1600s, stuff that led courtiers from a good meal to an evening of toe-tapping and dancing. If this journey sounds interesting to you, then do check out this well-done disc.

Brian Burtt


see also reviews by Glyn Pursglove and Jonathan Woolf


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