One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider


paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Clarissa Bevilacqua plays
Augusta Read Thomas

all Nimbus reviews

Brahms Dvorak
Brahms 2 Dvorak 7
all tudor reviews



Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom


Buy through MusicWeb from £12.30 postage paid.
You may prefer to pay by Sterling cheque or Euro notes to avoid PayPal. Contact for details

Musicweb Purchase button

Johannes SCHENCK (1660c.1720)
Il Giardino Armonico 12 Trio Sonatas Opus III

Sonata I in D [05:10]
Sonata II in B flat [04:35]
Sonata III in g minor [11:13]
Sonata IV in d minor [07:31]
Sonata V in c minor [05:47]
Sonata VI in E [03:56]
Sonata VII in f [05:25]
Sonata VIII in c [09:29]
Sonata IX in A [05:56]
Sonata X in b minor [05:27]
Sonata XI in a minor [05:31]
Sonata XII in d minor [09:01]
La Suave Melodia(Rachael Beesley (violin), Cassandra Luckhardt (viola da gamba), Regina Albanez (theorbo), Pieter Dirksen (harpsichord, organ); with Franc Polman (violin))/Pieter Dirksen
rec. September 2005, Nederlands Hervormde Kerk, Renswoude, Netherlands DDD
ET'CETERA KTC 1356 [79:03]

Johann Schenck is one of those composers we don't know very much about. Sometimes he is considered German, but he is also ranked as one of the most important Dutch composers of the 17th century. He was born in Amsterdam of German parents, and was baptised in the Reformed Church. This gives us every reason to consider him a Dutch composer. We don't know who his first music teacher was although it is quite possible that it was Carolus Hacquart who taught him the viola da gamba. Hacquart, born in Brughes in the Southern Netherlands, left his hometown for Amsterdam in the early 1670s. Schenck developed into a true virtuoso on the viola da gamba. According to a contemporary "no one has ever played this instrument more delicately than he". He soon established himself as an important member of the cultural élite of Amsterdam, and it seems that the financial support of this élite gave him the opportunity to publish a remarkable number of collections of music. He was by far the most widely published Dutch composer of the 17th century.

In 1697 he was appointed 'Kammermusikus' at the court of Elector Palatine Johann Wilhelm in Düsseldorf. The Elector aimed at modelling his court after Versailles, and attracted many important musicians. Among them were Handel, the violin virtuoso Veracini and Germany's greatest lute player, Silvius Leopold Weiss. No less a composer than Corelli devoted his Concerti grossi op. 6 to Johann Wilhelm. It is not known precisely how long Schenck stayed in the service of the Elector Palatine, but not longer than 1716, when Johann Wilhelm died. The quality of his court chapel can be deduced from the fact that when, after the Elector's death, the court moved to Mannheim, the best of his musicians were the core of what became Europe's best orchestra and gave its name to the 'Mannheim School'.

Most collections of Schenck's compositions consist of pieces for his own instrument, the viola da gamba. In these he mixed Italian and French elements. But he also published a series of twelve trio sonatas for two violins, viola da gamba and bc. This op. 3, entitled 'Il Giardino Armonico', was thought to be lost. It was presumed that the only copy left had been destroyed in World War II but Pieter Dirksen, the director of the ensemble La Suave Melodia, has been able to locate this copy only recently, and this has resulted in this recording. These trio sonatas are strongly influenced by the trio sonatas of Corelli, whom Schenck must have met in Düsseldorf. Even so they bear his own stamp.

The features of the twelve sonatas are explained extensively in the booklet by Pieter Dirksen. The basic model may be the 'sonata da chiesa' with its common four movements, but in several sonatas there are additional movements, and sometimes fast movements are interrupted by slow passages. Three of the sonatas (Nos. 3, 8 and 12) contain many more movements, and some of these are written for one instrument. The Sonata III contains two passages for the first and the second violin respectively, both consisting of fast and slow sections. In the two other sonatas the viola da gamba also gets a solo role. The Sonata VIII is a piece of programmatic music: here a Battaglia is depicted, which includes a kind of 'lamento' (a short solo for the second violin) and closes with a joyful allegro, which can be interpreted as a song of victory.

"These twelve sonatas demonstrate an astonishing variety of affects through which the composer displays a noteworthy sensitivity for the different keys, lending each sonata its own particular character", Pieter Dirksen writes in the booklet. This observation is certainly reflected in the performance of these sonatas. The harmonic peculiarities come out clearly, thanks to the perfect intonation. The contrasts between the movements are also worked out well, but fortunately these are not exaggerated: after all this is not Italian music. I like the way the basso continuo part is realised: the violinists are given strong rhythmic support, and there is a nice variety of scoring: harpsichord or organ with theorbo and viola da gamba, and in some sections only the latter two. Elsewhere I complained about the modern fashion of using the theorbo as percussion instrument. This ensemble stays away from that approach: the theorbo is only used in that way in the Sonata VIII, but as it illustrates a battle, that makes sense.

These are colourful, energetic and technically immaculate performances of works which are very important additions to the repertoire. I am sure that this very attractive disc will give you as much pleasure as it has given me.

Johan van Veen


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

November 2022
Bach Orchestral Suites

del Cinque
Del Cinque Cello sonatas

Fujita Mozart
Mao Fujita Mozart

Stanczyk Acousmatic Music


October 2022

Berg Violin Concerto
Violin Concerto Elmes

DEbussy Jeux
Debussy Jeux

Romantic pioano masters
Romantic Piano Masters

The future is female - Vol 2
Volume 2 - The Dance

impromptu harp music
Complete Harp Impromptus



Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.