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Placidus von CAMERLOHER (1718-1782)
Solo per La Gallichone: The Lute Music
Solo per La Gallichone [Parthia II] [10:27]
Duetto for 2 Gallichone [7:43]
Solo per La Gallichone [Parthia II] [11:59]
Trio in C Major [15;13]
Solo per La Gallichone [Parthia III] [7:53]
Solo per La Gallichone [Parthia IV] [5:36]
Parthia in F Major [15:28]
Christopher Eglhuber (lute)
Hans Brűderl (lute)
Theona Gubba-Chkheisze, Angelika Fichter (baroque violin)
Sabina Lehrmann (baroque cello)
rec. 2017, Marstall – Landratsamt Freising; Grundschule St. Korbinian, Freising, November 11-12, 2017.

Little-known, but interesting, composers of the Baroque continue to make their way onto CD. Placidus von Camerloher (or to give him the splendour of his full name, Placidus Cajetanus Laurentius von Camerloher) is not entirely unknown, but neither has his music been very often encountered in our own time. Indeed, on a quick search I have been unable to find any previous mention of him on this website. I know of only one another CD devoted to him – Sinfonien, Kammermusik & Arien, by the Neue Freisinger Hofmusik, directed by Sabrina Lehrmann (Thorofon 2629). This was released early in 2016 and an Austrian friend in Graz played it for me in the summer of that year. So far as I can remember the disc, there is no overlap with this new album. On this present CD, 18 out of the 24 tracks are claimed as World Premiere recordings.

Camerloher was born in Murnau (south of Munich) in August 1718 and received his early education in Ettal and Munich. He studied theology in Munich (at the Wilhelmsgymnasium) and in Freising, being ordained at the Cathedral in Freising in 1744. (Freising is north of Munich, quite near Munich Airport). At around the same date, he was appointed director of the court orchestra in Freising, in the service of Johann Theodor of Bavaria, Cardinal and Prince-Bishop of Freising, Regensburg and Liège. He was also director of chamber music for Johann Theodor in Liège between 1739 and 1741. The court orchestra in Freising was more than 40 strong and Camerloher was responsible for the sacred music in the cathedral and its secondary churches, for the training of young choristers, and for the music required at court ceremonies and entertainments. The Prince-Bishop Johann Theodor died in 1763: Camerloher held the position of musical director under his successors, Clemens Wenzeslaus of Saxony and Ludwig Joseph Freiherr von Welden. He is assumed to have held the post until his own death (in Freising) in July 1782. There are 29 surviving symphonies by him and another 8 which may be by him. He seems to have written all of his symphonies prior to the death of Johann Theodor. Under Clemens Wenzeslaus and Joseph Freiherr von Welden he seems chiefly to have composed sacred music (including a Missa Solemnis and at least seven other masses. He also, as this CD eloquently testifies, wrote some attractive music for solo lute.

The detailed documentation provided in the booklet with this CD makes reference to three important manuscripts containing relevant music plausibly attributed to Camerloher and drawn on ber musicby lutenist Christoph Eglhuber in this recording. All three are preserved in the library of Metten Abbey, a Benedictine House near Deggendorf, on the edge of the Bavarian Forest. Of these manuscripts Mus. MS. 4094 carries the title Solo per la Gallichone and contains 12 pieces for solo lute (gallichon) as well as a Duo for two gallichons.

The gallichon (variants of the name include gallichona, galischan, colachon, galizona, colocion and galischona) was a type of lute especially popular in Southern Germany in the 18th century, and evidently favoured by Camerloher. Most often the gallichon had six courses of strings, but some instruments had seven, eight or nine courses. The gallichon is characterized by its long, thin neck. It is sometimes referred to by yet another name – the mandora. In tuning it is similar to the baroque guitar. “Large collections in tablature are preserved in many monasteries in Southern Germany and the instrument was also popular at the court in Munich” (Eglhuber). By the end of the 18th century, music originally written for the gallichon was more often played on the guitar.

Of the music recorded here by Christoph Eglhuber, I find the solo pieces of most interest, but that may only reflect my particular fondness for the solo lute. Though Camerloher’s writing for this bass ‘lute’ may not have quite the distinction of that written by his slightly older contemporary, Silvius Leopold Weiss (1696-1750), it is accomplished and sophisticated. Stylistically, it might reasonably be described as gallant; Camerloher was not, of course, a specialized composer for the lute, as Weiss was (though Camerloher certainly played the lute, along with the violin and the organ). In the solo pieces on this album Eglhuber plays three different instruments – an eight-string gallichon of 2015 (made by Henrik Hasenfuss, and used on Parthia I and Parthia II), a ten-string mandora made in 1996 by Martin Schmidt (on Parthia III) and a six-string colachon, a 2014 instrument by Marco Salerno after Johann Paul Schorn (on Parthia IV). The second lutenist, Hans Brűdel plays an eight-string gallichon of 2008 made by G. Söhne (which ensures a lovely complementarity of sound in the Duetto (tracks 4-6).

The title ‘Parthia’, which Camerloher seems to have given to his music for unaccompanied gallichon is related to the word partita – in Southern Germany in particular the word ‘parthia’ could “in the 18th century … be applied loosely to any sort of multi-movement instrumental piece of the suite or sonata type, which might include movements headed ‘Largo’ or ‘Allegro’, for example, as well as the dance movements (allemande, courante, etc.) that traditionally make up the suite” (Alison Latham, Oxford Dictionary of Musical Terms, 2004). This is the case with the works which Camerloher calls a ‘Parthia’ – each of which contains a dance movement – in each case a ‘menuet’ – plus movements which are titled by a tempo marking, such as ‘Andante’, ‘Allegro’ and ‘Adagio’.

‘Parthia I’ begins with an Andante on which Englhuber draws some rich bass notes from his gallichone, in music which has gravity without solemnity or sadness; this is followed by an Allegro which makes clear the agility of both instrument and player. The closing Menuet begins intimately, even somewhat introspectively, but gradually builds, to end with some very sociable vitality. For my tastes, the balance of these three movements makes ‘Parthia I’ (tracks 1-3) the most satisfying of the solo suites on this CD. Elsewhere, I find individual movements more striking than the complete suites – such movements include the Allegro (track 8) from ‘Parthia II’, the opening Adagio (track 14) from ‘Parthia III’ and the central Allegro (track 18) from ‘Parthia IV’.

Beyond the solo music, the Duetto (tracks 4-6) has an attractive wit, especially in the second and third movements, ‘Echo’ and ‘Quique’. The Duetto is very well played, with some admirable interplay between Eglhuber and Brűder.

The same two musicians again impress when joined by the baroque cello of Sabrina Lehrmann in the Trio (tracks 10-13), which is attractive and engaging, not least in the graceful Andante which opens the work. The Allegro which follows does less to grip the listener, but the ensuing Menuet is charming and the closing Allegro offers some intriguing rhythms.

The album closes with an attractive quartet, in which the gallichone is foregrounded, alongside two violins (Theona Gubba-Chkheidze and Angelika Fichter both play eighteenth century violins),
with Sabrina Lehrmann playing a French cello of 1780. The work opens with an utterly delightful ‘Siciliana’ (track 20), in which the excellence of Camerloher’s ear, especially for instrumental balance, is very evident. The remaining movements of this suite are also impressive. Indeed, all of the music on this CD is, at the very least, pleasant and the best of it is rather more than that. It has certainly made me want to hear more of Camerloher’s music.

A bonus, as far as this CD is concerned, is a painting by the Flemish artist Paul Joseph Delcloche (1716-1759), Hofkonzert beim Fürst-bischof von Lüttich auf Schloss Seraing (‘Court Concert with Prince-Bishop of Liège at Seraing Castle’), painted in 1653 and now in the Bavarian National Museum in Munich. It is reproduced in, I assume, its entirety on the cover of the booklet, and a detail is on the front of the case containing CD and booklet. It shows the Prince-Bishop Johann Theodor playing the cello, along with the Elector Max III Joseph playing the viol and an unidentified lady at the harpsichord, with Camerloher directing the music – he seems to be doing so with a roll of paper. Seraing Castle is in the province of Liège, so the scene, if historical, must have been painted on an occasion when Camerloher accompanied the Bishop to Liège.

So far, the attempt to revive interest in Camerloher’s music seems to have been an essentially ‘local’ phenomenon. Christoph Eglhuber actually attended the Camerloher Grammar School in Freising, before going on to study in Munich. On the Thorofon CD mentioned earlier, the chief ensemble is the Neue Freisinger Hofmusik was established by Sabrina Lehrmann in 1999 with, I believe, the intention that it should revive some of the music written for the court of the Prince-Bishop in Freising. But Camerloher’s work, on the evidence of this CD, deserves to find other advocates without local connections to him and his music. While it would be wrong to think of him as a ‘major’ figure who has been lost to us, his music would certainly appeal to most with an interest in the music of the baroque.

Glyn Pursglove

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