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Music in Dresden in the times of Augustus II the Strong
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Sonata in G minor RV 26 (ms. Dresden 1717-24) [7:49]
Johann Friedrich SCHREYFOGEL (+ ca. 1750)
Sonata No. 1 in D minor [6:11]
Johann David HEINICHEN (1683-1729)
Sonata in D major [6:51]
Johann Friedrich SCHREYFOGEL
Sonata No. 4 in G minor [7:33]
Sonata No. 3 in F major [8:11]
Felippo BENNA (+ ca. 1750)
Sonata a violino solo in F minor (ms. ca 1716/17) [6:05]
Francesco Maria VERACINI (1690-1768)
Sonata No. 7 in A major (Dresden 1721) [12:18]
Johann Friedrich SCHREYFOGEL
Sonata No. 2 in D major [6:01]
Martyna Pastuszka (violin)
Marcin Świątkiewicz (cembalo)
Krzysztof Firlus (viola da gamba)
rec. 2013, State Music School in Bielsko-Biala.
DUX 0968 [61:01]

No sooner had I let Marcin Świątkiewicz’s superb recordings of Müthel’s Piano Concertos cool down than his name cropped up on this fine looking Dux label programme. Music at the court of Dresden was, as the booklet for this release teaches us, “striking in its cosmopolitan richness”, with Italian and French styles linking to the local German polyphony. Influenced by Louis XIV’s French court, the Saxon Electors including Frederick Augustus I – later King Augustus II the Strong – who had visited the French court several times and picked up the distinctive fashions and refinement there.

The music presented here can be found in the surviving part of violinist Johann Pisendel’s library, which included music collected in or copied from Italian sources while he was there in 1716. Pisendel was leader of the Dresden Hofkapelle, and keen to present the sounds of Vivaldi, Albinoni and the like on his return. His apparently rather hasty manuscript sketches have demanded a certain amount of reconstruction, but these musicians turn this weakness into a strength, the ‘careless’ writing inviting interpretations which best bring the music to life rather than in agonising over missing features.

It’s hard to beat Vivaldi, and his Sonata in G minor kicks off the recital with real panache, allowing us to gauge the qualities of these excellent musicians from the start. Perhaps least familiar is the name of Johann Friederich Schreyfogel, about whom very little is known. Indeed, his name only appears on the first of the sonatas played here, and the others have been attributed to him as they show similarities to other known works such as his violin concertos. There are some very fine slow movements from this composer, the opening Largo of the Fourth Sonata containing some lovely passagework, the Third Sonata also leaving plenty of space for improvisation over fairly simple harmonies.

Felippo Benna is another rare figure, his ‘solo’ sonata nevertheless accompanied with harpsichord and basso continuo, the music fitting in nicely with the rest but also heightening the superb lyrical quality of Veracini’s Sonata VII which follows. There is a certain amount of virtuosity expected at several moments throughout this programme, but the high register of the central Allegro in this sonata makes it stand out.

This is a nicely chosen, well recorded and superbly performed collection of music – a highly effective representation of “this new, committed musical style [for] the concert-going public at the Dresden court.” Martyna Pastuszka’s violin playing is colourfully expressive without becoming mannered, and Marcin Świątkiewicz’s accompaniments are rich and tasteful. Krzysztof Firlus doesn’t appear in every work but his contributions are always perfectly poised and ideally balanced.

Dominy Clements



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