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Cantatas for Soprano

 

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Johann Adolf HASSE (1699–1783)
Complete Solo Cantatas - Volume One
Credi, o caro, alla speranza [10:14]
Parto, mia Filli, è vero [13:38]
Ah, per pietade almeno [9:53]
Oh Dio! partir conviene [12:09]
Lascia i fior, l’erbette, e’l rio [12:06]
Tanto dunque è si reo [10:22]
Jana Dvořáková (soprano); Veronika Mráčková Fučíková (mezzo); Rozálie Kousalíková (baroque cello); Ondřej Macek (harpsichord); Hof-Musici
rec. Salla Terrena, Villa Bertramka, Prague Czech Republic, 10-12 March 2015
TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0228 [68:22]

Known as ‘The Saxon’, Hasse was born in Bergdorf, near Hamburg and was one of the most important composers in the world of late baroque Italianate opera. When he retired from Venetian musical life he was held in such high regard that he was granted a pension of which the likes of Vivaldi could only dream.

I first got to know the music of Johann Adolf Hasse quite a few years ago when I was looking into the music of the golden age of music and arts in Dresden in the eighteenth century. His part was as kapellmeister to the court of King Augustus III. This proved a none too happy time as his wife had wanted to settle in Vienna. This interest led me to get in a number of discs, including an excellent one containing three cantatas performed by Kai Wessel and Musica Alta Ripa (MDG 309 0944-2). This disc only whetted my appetite for more, so when the present CD was released I jumped at the chance to review it. All six of the cantatas presented here are recorded for the first time, as were the ones on the Musikproduktion Dabringhaus und Grimm disc. It is hard to do a direct comparison, but the MDG disc presents them as chamber cantatas whereas here the accompaniment is pared down to merely a cello and a harpsichord. Both approaches have a lot to commend them.

The cantatas are in the Italian style, cast in three or four short movements containing arias interspersed with recitatives. These clearly show Hasse’s brilliance at writing for the voice, which makes his fall into almost total obscurity shortly after his death all the more unbelievable.

The cantatas are split equally between the singers with each having three to perform, and they are all performed well. I would say however, that Jana Dvořáková is quite a deep soprano. On listening the first time I even thought she was the mezzo. Her voice is quite appealing and she shows a great range of expression, as does the true mezzo, Veronika Mráčková Fučíková. The musical accompaniment by Rozálie Kousalíková and Ondřej Macek is also excellent; so much so, that you do not miss the other instruments that are employed by Musica Alta Ripa.

The accompanying booklet essay and notes on each of the cantatas by the disc's harpsichordist, Ondřej Macek, are excellent. They not only give the background to the composer and his music, but also discuss the context in which the cantatas were composed. Full texts and English translations are also included. The recorded sound is good with the villa in Prague, which is associated with Mozart, having a pleasing acoustic. I look forward to further instalments of this series.

Stuart Sillitoe



 

 




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