The Musical Treasures of Leufsta Bruk II
Giuseppe TARTINI (1692-1770)
Violin Concerto No.2 in E minor, D55 [14:34]
Violin Concerto No.4 in D major, D15 [16:45]
Gottfried KELLER (d.1704)
Sonata No.1 in D minor for 2 flutes and bass continuo [4:26]
Sonata in C minor for cello and harpsichord [11:51]
Georg Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Duet from the opera ‘Ottone’ (A’ teneri affetti) for 2 German Flutes and bass continuo [4:19]
Johan Helmich ROMAN (1694-1758)
Flute Sonata No.4 in G major (BeRi 204) [13:11]
Hinrich Philip JOHNSEN (1717-1779)
Sonata No.3 in E flat major for harpsichord [6:13]
Church Music for Easter Day 1757, excerpts; Grave and Extroit [4:18]
Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble
rec. October 2010 and January/February 2011, Leufsta Church, Leufsta bruk, Sweden
BIS-CD-1975 [77:22]

Once more BIS delves into the collection of Charles De Geer, eighteenth century Dutch-born musician and industrialist who amassed a vast collection of music for the Leufsta Bruk estate he inherited in 1730. Appropriately the church in Leufsta - which is in Sweden - where this recording was made, possesses an outstandingly well preserved Baroque organ.

The music presented in this disc reflects the taste of the collection, and mirrors the contemporary standing of such illustrious names as that of Handel and Tartini whilst also promoting the exceptional Johan Helmich Roman, whose music has made increasing, and very welcome, inroads of late into the discography - of violinists in particular.

The most well-known of all the eight selected pieces are the two violin concertos of Tartini. As throughout we are in the safest and best of hands; the Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble proves formidably well equipped to present the music with marvellous elegance and vitality. These qualities are part of soloist Nils-Eril Sparf’s habitual arsenal, for he is a fiddler much admired on disc, and with quite a legacy of recordings to his name. In Tartini he proves no less quick-witted. His playing of the decorative moments in the Largo of the E minor is especially notable for the way in which he keeps things alive, both tonally and in terms of phraseology. Crispness and rhythmic vitality are equally the measures of success in the companion concerto in D major. Here too the organ, played by Björn Gäfvert, is exceptionally well balanced – the recorded sound by the way is outstandingly good throughout. Try to hear Sparf’s powerfully virtuosic first movement cadenza in this concerto, and also the warm legato of the Cantabile slow movement.

We hear Gottfried Keller’s Sonata No.1 in D minor for two flutes and bass continuo in which the team of Björg Ollén and Olle Torssander is accompanied by the cellist Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann and Björn Gäfvert. This four movement work is in the gallant style and its brief four minute length passes in genial warmth. Even better is the anonymous sonata for Cello and Harpsichord (Brinckmann and Gäfvert). This is a truly attractive work, well laid out for the instruments, and possessing an Aria and variations in the Moderato second movement that proves captivating. This is a work that should prove to be of high interest for cellists who specialise in music of this period. I can foresee hesitation because of the lack of a composer’s name, but the inherent quality of the music should be paramount, and this fine work will prove rewarding both to perform and to hear.

Roman’s Flute Sonata (Torssander and Gäfvert) is another winner, and especially so for the lilting birdsong of the Allegro second movement. The transcription for two flutes of A’ teneri affetto from Handel’s Ottone is pleasing and it is good to encounter the figure of Hinrich Philip Johnsen (1717-79). His Harpsichord Sonata (played by the hard-working Gäfvert) is a most interesting discovery, fluid, fluent and consistently well written for the keyboard. The same composer is represented by the last work, two brief extracts from his Church Music for Easter Day 1757, celebratory music of ringing concision and vitality.

It ends another valuable programme from these forces, one that offers variety to the general listener, context to the specialist (not least via the fine booklet notes), and that brings kudos to the performers.

Jonathan Woolf

Another valuable programme that offers variety, context and brings kudos to the performers.