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Musica Baltica 1: Baroque Cantatas from Gdansk
Johann Valentin MEDER (1649-1719)
Cantata pro festo S.Michaelis archangeli: Singet, lobsinget mit Herzen und Zungen a 11 PL-GD Ms Joh 192 [8.08]
Johann Jeremias DU GRAIN (17??-1756)
Cantata Hertzlich lieb hab ich dich o Herr PL-GD Ms. Joh. 187 [16.37]
Johann Balthasar Christian FREISLICH (c.1690-1774)
Cantata Jauchzet dem Herrn alle Welt PL-GD Ms. Joh. 17 [4.22]
Cantata post sacram coenam - Gott ist die Liebe PL-GD Ms. Joh. 18 [11.56]
Cantata Das is meine Freude PL-GD Ms. Joh. 22 [4.06]
Johann Daniel PUCKLITZ (1705-1774)
Cantata Concerto post 22 Trin. Kehre wieder PL-GD Ms. Joh. 235 [9.05]
Cantata Concerto 27 post Trin. Ich will in allen Sachen PL-GD Ms. Joh. 237 [11.38]
Marie Smolka (sop), Franziska Gottwald (alto), Hermann Oswald (tenor), Markus Flaig (bass)
Goldberg Baroque and Vocal Ensembles/Andrzej Szadejko
rec. Gdansk, 5-6 September 2016
Notes in English, French and German: texts only in German
Reviewed in surround 5.0
MDG 902 1989-6 SACD [65.54]

Anyone who enjoys the cantatas of J.S.Bach will find something to interest them on this disc. There are seven cantatas varying from just four to sixteen minutes long, all by musicians either active in Gdansk (Danzig), such as Du Grain and Pucklitz, or employed as chapel masters there, like Meder and Freislich. Each contributed substantial oeuvres of church music which were stored in the archives of St John's and St Catherine's churches. St John's archive contained by far the largest collection.

The valuable and very thorough note by a Professor at the Academy of Music in Gdansk, Danuta Popingis, explains that the archive at St Catherine's was much smaller and that of St Mary's is assumed destroyed entirely. Today the manuscripts are housed in the Danzig Library of the Polish Academy of the Sciences and identified by the catalogue number PL-GD noted beside each work above, from which we can deduce all seven works here originate from St John's Church archive. These numbers are not assigned by composer as are the BWV numbers for Bach, for example. The performances on this disc are all from manuscript copies, and are, one assumes, new to the recorded catalogue and consist of chorales, choruses, recitatives and the occasional aria.

They are very welcome, for they all offer evidence of the quality of work that was being composed and performed in the thriving Baltic city of Gdansk. In one sense these works are conventional since they consist of chorales, choruses and the occasional aria, none of which deviates from the expected style of the baroque cantata as found in the compositions of J.S. Bach (of course) but also of Telemann and Buxtehude et al. What they offer the modern listener, in these skilful performances, is not only pleasure but a further insight into the astonishing fecundity of northern European baroque composers, who must have been working away feverishly in dozens of towns and religious institutions for the best part of a century or more, producing music that still impresses us today. We are the lucky ones who have inherited this treasure-filled archive.

The four soloists and the Goldberg ensembles, instrumental and vocal, are expert performers and are recorded in a beautiful-sounding but un-named venue, my guess is that it is a church because it has a wonderfully spacious acoustic. Despite the total obscurity of these composers this issue should be heard by all enthusiasts of German, or should I say German-style, baroque music.

Dave Billinge



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