Johann David HEINICHEN (1683 - 1729)
Unpublished Dresden Sonatas
Trio sonata for two oboes and bc in B flat [7:29]
Trio sonata for two oboes and bc in G [9:21]
Trio sonata for two oboes, bassoon and bc in B flat [10:17]
Sonata for oboe and bc in g minor* [7:29]
Trio sonata for two oboes and bc in F [7:59]
Sonata for bassoon and bc in D [9:18]
Trio sonata for two oboes and bc in c minor [8:10]
Sans Souci Baroque Ensemble (Giuseppe Nalin*, Nicol˛ Dotti (oboe), Paolo Tognon (bassoon), Massimiliano Varusio (viola da gamba, cello), Michele Gallo (double bass), Fabiano Merlante (theorbo, archlute, guitar), Marco Vincenzi (harpsichord))
rec. 22 - 24 July 2013, Villa Bertoldi, Settimo di Pescantina (VR), Italy. DDD

The court chapel in Dresden was the most brilliant ensemble in Germany for most of the first half of the 18th century. It had some of the greatest virtuosos on various instruments in its ranks, and among them were players of the oboe, the instrument which is the focus of the present disc. It includes sonatas for one and two oboes with basso continuo, extended by a sonata for bassoon.

Johann David Heinichen was Kapellmeister in Dresden from 1717 until his death. At first he did not plan to make a career in music. Born in Kr÷ssuln near Weissenfels he entered the Thomasschule in Leipzig where he received keyboard lessons from Johann Kuhnau, the then Thomaskantor. He was asked to become his assistant, but then decided to study law and after finishing his studies went to Weissenfels to start a practice as a lawyer. However, Johann Philipp Krieger, Kapellmeister at the court in Weissenfels, asked him to compose music for festive occasions at the court. That was the start of his musical career. He returned to Leipzig, composed some operas and played in the Collegium Musicum under the direction of Telemann. During a stay in Venice he became acquainted with some of the most famous Italian masters, such as Vivaldi and Lotti. He returned to Germany in 1716 and entered the court chapel in Dresden.

At the time the oboe was a relatively new instrument to Germany. It had been developed in France in the mid-17th century; the court employed an ensemble called grande Úcurie which comprised mostly oboes. It was due to the attraction of everything French that the art of oboe making and playing disseminated across Europe. Before the end of the century it made its appearance in many countries, including Italy and Germany. Johann Sebastian Bach was one of the first to compose for the oboe. Several of his concertos for harpsichord were first conceived for the oboe or the oboe d'amore. Oboes figured prominently in music written for the court in Dresden. One can think here of the six sonatas by Zelenka which date from the early 1720s. Heinichen composed a number of concertos with significant oboe parts and sonatas for oboe with various other instruments, such as the violin.

This disc includes sonatas for two oboes, sometimes with an obbligato part for the bassoon, all recorded here for the first time. That also goes for the bassoon sonata; only the Sonata in g minor for oboe and bc has been recorded before. We know the names of the star oboists in Dresden: the French-born Franšois Le Riche and Johann Christian Richter. Telemann dedicated his Kleine Cammer-Musik to them. Heinichen's sonatas give a good impression of their great skills. These sonatas are technically demanding but their importance goes beyond that. There is quite some expression in the slow movements and the fast movements have considerable swing. Heinichen explores the combination of two oboes for some harmonic peculiarities. The bassoon parts could have been written with the skills of Johann Gottfried B÷hme in mind.

The Ensemble Sans Souci delivers zestful performances with the fast movements coming off best. There is no lack of expression in the slow movements, but here I find the playing of especially Giuseppe Nalin not as fluent as one would like. There he produces a sound which seems a bit stressed. I would have preferred a more relaxed sound, but also a more differentiated and sometimes more subtle approach. There are, I think, better players of the baroque oboe around and I hope some of them will turn to these sonatas. For the time being we should enjoy this disc which gives some impression of the brilliance of the Dresden oboists and bassoonist.

Johan van Veen

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