Das ist meine Freude - Soprano cantatas from the Grossfahner Collection
Johann Heinrich BUTTSTETT (1666–1727)
Das ist meine Freude (c.1705) [9:08]
Jetzt ist das Mahl bereit [8:36]
Georg Friedrich KUENSTEL (c. 1699–1700)
Was will mich die Suende schrecken [9:06]
Johann PACHELBEL (1653–1706)
Mein Fleisch ist die rechte Speise [8:24]
Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681–1767)
Schmecket und sehet (TWV 7:32) [8:50]
Ich hoffe darauf, dass du so gnaedig bist (TV 1:deest) [11:43]
Was Jesus tut, ist wohl getan (TVWV 1:1526) [10:58]
Johann TOPF (fl. 1700)
Gott, du bist mein Gott [10:35]
Maria Jonas (soprano)
Chursächsische Capelle Leipzig  
rec. Novembner 2003, Stadthalle, Zerbst
Texts and translations included
CPO 777 5462 [77:20]
This disc presents a selection of music from 1650 to 1750 collected and performed in the Thuringian villages of Eschenbergen and Grossfahner. Developments in education, and rising musical standards, led to a demand for new works and the church director in Grossfahner, the composer, violinist and educator Abraham Nagel did much to propagate music new and old in his village. The works that CPO presents are Protestant cantatas for solo soprano and a small instrumental accompaniment. These attractive works are of modest forces for village church performance.
Johann Heinrich Buttstett was a pupil of Pachelbel, and a distinguished organist. Das ist meine Freude was composed around 1705 and is written in a sophisticated, theatrical up-to-date style. Its obsessively circling variations on the first four words of the text represent a powerfully authoritative statement. And the duetting violins add to the vibrant spirit of this startlingly dynamic, compact work. The varied nature of the accompanying string and continuo support can be appreciated when the violins drop out, and the caressing melismas offered to the soprano Maria Jonas have something gently erotic about them. The work ends as it began, with suggestive operatic hints. Jetzt ist das Mahl bereit offers pathos and colour, and warm shafts of light, in another brief but effective setting. What a pity that so few of Buttstett’s works have survived intact.
Georg Friedrich Kuenstel was a court organist and also widely known, it appears, as a wheeler-dealer, flogging music which he’d had copied at court expense, and pocketing the money. The notes don’t go into detail as to how posterity knows this, though it is an interesting detail. Was will mich die Suende schrecken is a most impressive work, requiring the accompanying solo violin’s dextrous virtuosity in the opening Sonata. The concertante-like division between voice, violin and continuo demonstrates a practical and assured musical mind at work. Fortunately Jonas sings splendidly and violinist Anne Schumann likewise. The other violinist in the original instrument Chursächsische Capelle Leipzig is Dorothea Vogel, and she proves expert in Pachelbel’s Mein Fleisch ist die rechte Speise with its plangent scordatura and sensitively performed answering vocal phraseology. It’s good to have an opportunity to hear organist/music director Johann Topf’s Gott, du bist mein Gott which is another attractive, melodic and well structured cantata.
Finally there are three Telemann cantatas. Schmecket und sehet is illuminated by a joyful dialogue between soprano and accompanying violin. Ich hoffe darauf, dass du so gnaedig bist employs in part a pre-existing melody – it’s the second movement chorale, but it’s pleasurable to hear the calcedon, as elsewhere we hear the theorbo.
The performances throughout are polished and effective. There are good notes, texts and translations. The music combines relatively little known composers with such as Telemann and Pachelbel, which is a representative reflection of the music performed at the time in these particular Saxon villages. Just one final question: why has this disc been on the back burner since 2003?
Jonathan Woolf
Polished and effective performances.