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Johann Gottlieb JANITSCH (1708-1763)
Sonate de camera - Volume 1
Sonata da camera in G minor [17:27]
Sonata da camera in C minor, Op.5 [12:31]
Sonata da camera in C major, Op.4 [13:08]
Sonata da camera in E minor, Op.5B [11:56]
Sonata da camera in A minor, Op.5A [12:31]
Notturna: Christopher Palameta (oboe, oboe d’amore), Stephen Bard (oboe), Mika Putterman (baroque flute), Hélène Plouffe (violin, viola), Kathleen Kajioka (viola), Karen Kaderavek (cello), Erin Helyard (harpsichord)
rec. 1-3 March, 2008, Église Saint-Augustin, Mirabel (Québec)
ATMA ACD2 2593 [67:55]
Experience Classicsonline

Born in Silesia, Johann Gottlieb Janitsch flourished as one of Frederick II’s ‘stable’ of court musicians. He was a member of Frederick’s orchestra as the violinist Johann Gottlieb Graun, his brother the cellist Carl Heinrich, the violinist Franz Benda, the great flautist Johann Joachim Quantz and, of course, C.P.E. Bach. Like many of Frederick’s Berlin musicians, Janitsch was both accomplished instrumentalist (he played the contraviolon) and a composer. There is a valuable section on him in Michael O’Loghlin’s Frederick the Great and His Musicians, 2008. A good deal of Janitsch’s music has been lost although some manuscripts which disappeared from Berlin at the end of the Second World War recently turned up in the Ukraine.

Janitsch served Frederick from 1736 until the year of his death, 1763. Towards the end of that lengthy period - mostly spent in Berlin - from about 1758 Janitsch began to organise weekly chamber music concerts (every Friday afternoon) at his apartment behind the Jagerhof in Berlin. It was probably primarily for such occasions that he composed his twenty-seven ‘quadro’ sonatas.

Of the five sonatas on this very pleasant CD, three (Op.5, Op.5A and Op.5B) are receiving what appear to be their first recordings. One of the attractions of these sonatas - and they have a number - is that Janitsch writes for more or less unfamiliar combinations of instruments. So the first sonata (the one without an opus number) uses the oboe, the violin, the viola and continuo; Opus 5 is for two oboes, viola and continuo; the Opus 4 sonata is written for the oboe d’amore, two violas and continuo, while Opus 5B deploys the oboe d’amore, two violas and continue and Opus 5A is for flute, oboe, oboe d’amore and continuo. The changing textures, and Janitsch’s obvious fascination with the possibilities thus created give these sonatas a very pleasing variety. This is a programme one can readily listen to straight through. Add to such considerations the fact that Janitsch has a genuine gift for melody and a fondness for somewhat improbable harmonic shifts - as, for example, in the Vivace of the quartet in A minor - and one has music that is far from routine. A fondness for syncopation, an obvious familiarity with the music of his Berlin colleague C.P.E. Bach, serve to give to Janitsch’s music an essentially galant and expressive manner which is very attractive.

The musicians of Notturna are very accomplished and the recorded sound is good (the tone of Christopher Palameta’s oboe and oboe d’amore being particularly well caught). It is to be hoped that further volumes will follow. While the world can hardly be full of people waiting eagerly for recordings of the work of Janitsch (whose name has not made a previous appearance on the pages of MusicWeb), this music which should give real pleasure to anyone with an interest in the music of the mid Eighteenth Century.

Glyn Pursglove 























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