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Philipp Heinrich ERLEBACH (1657-1714) Lieder: Harmonische Freude Musicalischer Freunde
(1697 and 1710)
Sonatas Nos. 2 and 5.
Le Banquet Céleste/Damien Guillon (countertenor)
rec. September 2020, Opéra de Rennes, France. DDD.
Texts and translations included.
Erlebach belongs to that generation of talented German composers whose
music is only beginning to emerge from the shadow of Bach and Telemann. A
great deal of his music (2500+ of his own and others’ works at his death)
has not survived, much of it having been destroyed by a fire in the library
at Rudolstadt, Thuringia, where the composer had been Kapellmeister. Even
what survives has mostly been recorded as parts of collections, of baroque
Christmas music and the like.
There is slightly more of Erlebach’s music in the catalogue than I had
thought, but only a handful of recordings are devoted entirely to his
music, and three of them are from the Outhere group of labels: in addition to
this new release, there’s a 2018 Ricercar recording of his complete Trio
Sonatas (RIC393 –
review), and the latest batch of the mid-price Alpha Collection, due for reissue
in June 2021, contains another recording of his Lieder entitled Zeichen im Himmel (ALPHA612).
The Trio Sonatas are probably the best place to start with Erlebach’s
music, and the performances by L’Achéron on the Ricercar recording are a good
way to appreciate them. I didn’t review them at the time, because Outhere
were still sending press previews in mp3 only, and I was hoping to obtain
better quality. Listening to them again, I have to admit that the full-fat
mp3 (320 kb/s) give a pretty good idea of the quality of the CD, and the album is very enjoyable.
Though the works on the new recording – and on Zeichen im Himmel –
are described as Lieder, so secular rather than sacred, there is nothing frivolous about them:
all are full of good Lutheran religious and moral sentiments, with internal rhymes in
each line to emphasise the point, but the approachability of the music and the attractive performances
make the sentiments palatable. The sentiments and the ‘political’ comments
(i.e references to current events) may not chime with modern
listeners, and rhe poetry may often be of the William McGonagall variety, but the music – ‘sensitive and imaginative’, as the notes in the
booklet put it – and performance will appeal.
I would have had some reservations about recommending 71 minutes of
counter-tenor singing, but the instrumental accompaniments are well varied,
up to five parts, and the programme is broken up with two instrumental
sonatas from a few years earlier than the Lieder. Overlapping to
some extent with the new Alpha recording, in addition to the Ricercar,
there’s a Linn album of his Six Sonatas for violin (or violone) and viola
da gamba (CKD270 –
review). Johan van Veen had some reservations about that Linn recording, but
thought it worth having as the best to date. Zeichen im Himmel
also contains three of the trio sonatas, Nos. 2, 3 and 4.
It's just a shame that the available Erlebach recordings should overlap to an extent.
I haven’t made detailed comparisons with those other recordings, though I
have listened to and enjoyed them again; I shall be reviewing Zeichen im Himmel in a forthcoming article on the June 2021 Alpha
reissues. The performances from Le Banquet Céleste are all at least as
enjoyable as the other Erlebach abums, and their director, Damien Guillon makes an attractive case for
both the vocal and the instrumental works.
This recording will appeal especially to those wishing to expand their
knowledge of the music of German composers of this period, but it should
also prove attractive to general listeners.
Contents Seine Not recht überlegen wird manch Tränen-Bad erregen
Des Tadlers Stich verlache ich
Liebe in Abwesenheit grünet durch Beständigkeit
Wer sich dem Himmel übergeben, wird Ruh‘ und Glück erleben
An Jammer und Beschwerlichkeit, da fehlt es hier zu keiner Zeit
Auf des Kreuzes Finsternis folgt die Sonne ganz gewiss
Ich finde schlechte Freud bei Unempfindlichkeit
Die Zeit verkehret, was uns beschweret
Le Banquet Céleste:
Marie Rouquié and Simon Pierre (violin)
Isabelle Saint-Yves and Fiona-Émilie Poupard (viola da gamba)
Thomas de Pierrefeu (violone)
André Henrich (archlute)
Kevin Manent-Navratil (harpsichord and organ)
Damien Guillon (countertenor and direction