Johann Georg (von) REUTTER (1708-1772)
Sinfonia in D [4:19]
La Magnanimità di Alessandro: Venga l’età (1730) [6:36]
Alcide: Soletto al mio caro (1730) [8:34]
Concerto per il clarino (trumpet concerto) in D [11:03]
La divina Provvidenza in Ismaele: Fra deserti (1732) [7:14]
Archidamia: Dura legge (1727) [5:43]
La Betulia liberata: Sinfonia in g (1734) [4:13]
Alessandro il grande: Dal nostro nuovo aspetto (1732) [7:36]
La Betulia liberata: Del pari infeconda (1734) [6:31]
Olivia Vermeulen (mezzo)
rec. WDR Funkhaus, Cologne, 23-26 November 2011. DDD
Booklet includes texts and translations
ACCENT ACC24275 [65:15]
You may well find yourself drawn to this CD by its cover; even though there aren’t many shops any more where you can flip through a browser and be seduced by a cover, most online suppliers offer a small cover shot and this, depicting musicians and guests at a grand eighteenth-century wedding may well catch the eye. You may also, not unreasonably, have high expectations of anything on the Accent label. Do the contents match the cover - ut pictura musica, do the music and performances match the picture, to quote the motto of another early music record label? I’m afraid that there have to be reservations to my generally affirmative response.
I don’t recall coming across a whole CD devoted to the music of Reutter before. The odd works of his that I may have heard on a compilation album have left so little impression on me that I can’t remember any of them. I was pleased, then, to be making a discovery from the generation of German and Austrian composers which saw the baroque give way to the galant and the classical.
Reutter was deputy Kapellmeister to Maria Theresa and was elevated to the nobility for his services in 1740. There’s a good range of music here: orchestral sinfonias, a trumpet concerto and, interspersed among these, arias from his operas.
I can’t say that we’ve been missing out on a musical genius; the music here is attractive, so that I’d rate his contribution alongside that of his predecessor as court musician, Johann Joseph Fux. That means that it’s well worth hearing but ultimately a little too merely attractive to be memorable. If you want to try a sample, from Naxos Music Library perhaps, if you have access to that worthwhile institution, the aria Soletto al mio caro (track 7) will give you a fair idea of its quality.
That track will also give you a good indication of the quality of the performances, including those of Olivia Vermeulen. It’s about her contribution that my reservations chiefly arise. She has a very pleasant voice but she is inclined to sound a little squally at times. This is not a serious problem but I did find that it prevented me from fully appreciating the vocal items. My wife says that I’m being over-critical; you may well find yourself agreeing with her in emphasising the general beauty of the singing.
If you try to make sense of the words of this aria, you won’t find the ‘English’ text in the booklet much help: ‘Lonely, to my dear one/I serve flattery and keep silence’ doesn’t make much sense. The words really mean, ‘I serve and love in silence only my dearly beloved’. I’m afraid that’s pretty much the level of the translations - if your Italian isn’t quite up to it, you will find the German translation much more idiomatic than the ‘English’.
Soletto al mio caro is followed by the three movements of an attractive trumpet concerto - actually it’s more a concerto with, rather than for, trumpet, since the solo instrument is silent throughout the central andante. This work, as the notes point out, is new to us, not to be confused with the Second Trumpet Concerto, also in D, which has already been recorded on Brilliant Classics 93270.
Nuovo Aspetto appears to derive its name from one of Reutter’s arias here, so it’s not surprising if they have a strong rapport with his music. By the standards of early music consorts the group is quite large: four first violins are credited, three seconds, two violas, cello, violone, trumpet, psalter, harp, lute/guitar, trumpet and a plethora of keyboard players: three, though not all appearing at once. In reality, however, they never overwhelm the music; if anything they slightly underwhelm it with affection. There are times when I could have liked a little more power to the performers’ collective elbows. I particularly liked the prominent use of the psaltery (dulcimer), harp, lute and guitar, alone or in combination, in accompanying the arias.
The recording, made in association with WDR Cologne, is good, capturing well the intimate nature of the music and the performances. The notes in the booklet are helpful and, fortunately, translated into much better English than the sung texts; those text translations really should be completely rewritten by someone who understands Italian.
With small reservations, then, this recording lives up to the promise of its eye-catching cover; such disappointments as I felt were minor in comparison with the advantages of having such attractive music from a little-known composer. If it’s all ultimately unmemorable, that doesn’t diminish the considerable pleasure of hearing it. I enjoyed this CD better the second and third times around, which is always a good sign.
Attractive, if unmemorable music, well worth trying.
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