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aBritish Symphonies
4CDs £16 post-free


W.S. Bennett, Rootham, Moeran,
Bax, Rubbra, Rawsthorne, Berkeley
Alwyn, Grace Williams, Arnold, Wordsworth. Searle, Joubert

Van Dieren Chinese Symphony
Searle Symphonies 3, 5
Shaw Piano Concertos 1 and 2

£11.75 post-free

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Editor-in-Chief: Rob Barnett

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inspired choice

Book and CD £12

Book + 4CDs £33



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Johann Philipp FÕRTSCH (1652-1732)
Ach, dass die Hülfe aus Zion [5:37]
Ich weiβ, dass mein Erlöser lebt [6:22]
Verbum caro factum est [6:11]
Träufeit, ihr Himmel, von oben [3:12]
Veni Creator Spiritus (Hymnus) [7.51]
Ich freue mich im Herm [6.39]
Lobet den Herren, alle Heiden [6:30]
Adesto mihi Domine [6:55]
Herr, wer wird wohnen [3:38]
Aus der Tierfen [7.30]
O adorands trinitas [9.08?]
Monika Mauch (soprano), Barbara Bübl (soprano), Alex Potter (alto), Hans Jörg Mammel (tenor), Markus Flaig (bass)
L’arpa festante/Rien Voskuilen
rec. Evangelische Kirche Zwerenberg, 29 September 2009
CARUS 83.363 [69.44] 

As the booklet notes acknowledge, these sacred vocal concertos by Johann Philipp Fortsch are not startlingly innovative works. The harmony is reasonably orthodox. The composer’s aim seems to be to set the text as clearly as possible. This is achieved through highlighting words by means of rhythmic placement, melismatic treatment, melodic registration and suchlike. Evidently this is the objective rather than to produce works that take music in a new direction.
That said, the concertos are nevertheless well-composed pieces of beauty and charm. They’re certainly worth hearing, and the fact that all but two of them here receive their world première recordings makes this a release of note. The performances here are full of conviction and sympathy. The voices appear to have been carefully chosen to be well-differentiated, allowing, importantly, for clarity of contrapuntal realisation. However, although the performances are well-shaped and contain good dynamic range and phrasing, they do tend towards the literal. One wonders whether there could not be a little more flexibility and perhaps even room for a little more improvisation - which would help to bring the works to life to a greater extent.
It should also be noted that presenting the vocal concertos one after another on the disc in this fashion is to take them out of context. They were designed to have been performed on a specific occasion and not to be listened to in a setting of eleven in a row. The result of such programming is that the listener does rather feel keen for a change of scene by the end of the disc. My only other criticism is that the bass, Markus Flaig, appears to lack resonance on the lowest notes: this is especially noticeable in Adesto mihi Domine.
Otherwise, this is interesting and appealing music in sturdy and faithful performances; illuminated by detailed and well-written programme notes in the CD booklet.
Em Marshall-Luck