12 Spring 2006 Early Music America
Johann Sebastian BachLute Works Stephen Stubbs, Baroque luteATMA Classique ACD 2 223855:54 minutes
The solo lute works of JohannSebastian Bach (1685-1750) are, asa collection, a hodgepodge. Someof the sources are tablatures pre-pared by lutenists, but Bachs auto-graphs are in grand staff. Of thepieces on this recording, BWV 995 isBachs 1727 transcription of theSuite No. 5 in C minor for Unaccom-panied Cello (which also exists in acontemporary tablature); BWV 998
is a 1740work whoseautographspecifiesluth Cembal;and BWV1001 is the
first sonata for solo violin (1720),presented in Stephen Stubbsstranscription.
Stubbs wears many hats: profes-sor at the Hochschule fr Knste inBremen, founding director of theensembles Tragicomedia and Accad-emia dAmore, opera director andregular co-director (with PaulODette) of the Boston Early MusicFestival. As with ODette, the lateMichael Eagan, and others, one hasto wonder when Stubbs gets time topractice the lute. Yet he clearly does,as the current disc testifies.
The performance we get here isless about virtuosity (although theseare difficult works) than it is about athoughtful presentation of complexmusical ideas. The lute used in therecording is not identified; we areonly told that it has 14 courses(rather than the normal 13) in orderto play contrabass Gs in the auto-graph of BWV 995. In this suite,Stubbs presents an appropriatelyFrench rendition with clean slurs andcrisp ornamentation to carry theoften quirky lines. The Prelude,Fugue and Allegro (BWV 998) is abit more labored by comparison. Butdont go awaythe Sonata in G
minor (BWV 995) performance justi-fies its transcription here with itsdepth of sound and clarity of line.And violinists who like to play thePresto at twice the speed couldprofit from a listen to this version.Stephen Dydo
Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber
Vesperae longiores ac breviores (1693)
Yale Schola Cantorum, SimonCarrington, conductor; Yale Collegium Players, Robert Mealey, violin, directorYale Schola Cantorum (Self-produced; available atwww.Clarionrecords.com)59:53 minutes
Its been a bumper crop year forBiber (1644-1704) sacred musicrecordings. We have had two disksof his Missa Christi resurgentis(Andrew Manze and Andrew Par-rott), a recording of Requiems (PaulMcCreesh) in B and F, and now thisexcellent recording of the Vesperaelongiores ac breviores of 1693,
reconstruct-ed by musi-cologistBrian Clark.This disc is acomposite oftwo live per-formances
given last year by the Yale ScholaCantorum, directed by Simon Car-rington. Since Biber only set thepsalms and litany for his publishedVesperae, the remaining music inthe service is by Rupert Ignaz Mayr(1646-1712), Emperor Leopold I(1640-1705), and Giovanni Legrenzi(c.1620-1690).
Bibers setting is smaller-scaledthen his grand masses and is scoredfor four voices (solo and tutti), twoviolins, two violas, and continuo.Biber might have had bigger plans,though; there is a set of manuscriptparts in the Bavarian State Museumfor wind instruments that wouldhave doubled the choral parts.
There are so many good things
happening on this recording. Therepertoire is excellent; the Biberpsalm settings are all top-flight, andthe instrumental works that areinterpolated between them are wellchosen and played to perfection byviolinist Robert Mealy and a smallstring ensemble. The music by theother composers holds up, too. TheSancta Maria by Mayr is a gem forsolo soprano and strings, andLegrenzis Salve Regina provides agrand conclusion to the service.
The performances are excellent.Its heartening to hear fresh, enthu-siastic young voices (they are Yalestudents) joyfully singing. Carring-tonone of the choral worlds elitethough not known as an early musicspecialistis quite at home in thiswork. His intelligent pacing, wisesense of proportion, and remarkablegift for getting the best from a choirmake this disc well worth acquiring. Craig Zeichner
Jacques DuphlySecond Livre de Pices deClavecin (complete)
Byron Schenkman, harpsichordCentaur CRC 2714 67:56 minutes
Four books of keyboard workswas Jacques Duphlys (1715-1789)total published output. (The thirdhas a violin part for some of thepieces.) His productive life was spentin the salons of Paris, where he washighly regarded as a teacher of agraceful technique that, like hispieces, followed Jean-PhilippeRameaus model.
The works are character studiesand are from three to six minutes inlength. La Flix has been muchrecorded, and for good reason; ithas a striking exploration of themarking Noblement in its exploita-tion of the bass. Byron Schenkmanintensifies the effect by taking atempo slow enough to allow for richornamentation and rubato. La Vic-toire and La dHricourt bothenable Schenkman to reveal his cus-tomary sparkle and speed. On theother hand, La Lanza, despite its
deeper harmonic explorations, has adifficult time justifying its exceptionallength (11 minutes).
Schenkman plays on a restoredHenri Hemsch harpsichord, and itssound is large. The recording isadmirably clear, with no more reverb
than wewouldexpect in aroom hous-ing such aninstrument.This is good,because
Schenkman, in the manner ofRameau, often revels in the powerof the bass, with a rather boomyeffect. His handling of the higherpassages is also quite strong, and inthe many instances of contrastingextremes of high and low, thebalance is beautifully maintained. Stephen Dydo
Claudio MonteverdiScherzi musicaliMaria Cristina Kiehr, soprano;Stephen MacLeod, bass; ConcertoSoave (Amandine Beyer, Alba Roca,violins; Gaetano Nasillo, cello;Monica Pustilnik, lute, guitar; Mara Galassi, harp), Jean-MarcAymes, claviorganum, directorHarmonia Mundi HMC 90185573:29 minutes
In 1607, Giulio Cesare Montever-di published a collection of hisbrother Claudios three-part worksfor voice and instruments calledScherzi musicali. In some ways, the
actual musichas beenovershad-owed by theDichiaratione(declaration)that Giulioincluded with
the music, a polemic that defendedhis brothers new style against thecriticism of the theorist GiovanniMaria Artusi.
The Scherzi musicali were proba-bly written before 1607 and wereintended for the Mantuan court. The
Edited by Craig Zeichner
Early Music America Spring 2006 13
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Franz Schubert: Music for solo fortepiano. Seth Carlin
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J.S. Bach ~ available now!works are strophic but have instru-mental ritornelli and are filled withdance rhythms. A second set ofScherzi musicali was published in1632, and these works are alsostrophic but, with the exception ofone piece, are not associated withthe dance. This recording featuresmusic from both sets, as well assome canzonette a tre voci and asolo work from the Settimo Librodei Madrigali.
Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) infused these works with themelodic splendor, rhythmic verve,and almost preternatural gift forvocal writing that are his hallmarks.Soprano Maria Cristina Kiehr andbass Stephan MacLeod blend beau-tifully, particularly in De la bellezzale dovute lodi, but its the solovoice pieces that make you loseyour breath. And while MacLeod isan excellent singer, its an other-worldly experience when Kiehrsings. Her assured vocalism and wit make Quel sguardo sdegno-setto one of the high pointsher glowing top notes on thephrase Beglocci allarmi areunforgettable.
The instrumentalists of ConcertoSoave provide sizzling accompani-ment throughout. The ritornelli ofDamigella tutta bella, with echoesof the shepherds dance from LOr-feo, fairly jump out of the stereospeakers. Ultimately, its Kiehr andharpist Mara Galassi who will mosthaunt you. In Se i languidi mieisguardi, a work for solo voice(without strict rhythmic structure)from the Settimo Libro deiMadrigali, singer and harpist touchevery nerve in this masterpiece. Craig Zeichner
Concertos for FortepianoThe Mozartean Players Classical Orchestra, Steven Lubin, fortepiano, directorClassical Soundings CS100146:27 minutes
With certain pieces of music, somany fine recordings have alreadybeen made that a performer reallyneeds to bring something new tothe studio to justify yet another.Mozarts Concerto No. 21 is such apiece and, happily, Steven Lubin issuch a performer. Simply playingthe work on period instruments isnot sufficient; its been done before.Lubin and his ensemble bring alightness of sound and a rich com-plexity to Mozart. Superb techniqueis wedded throughout to revelations
of meaning, and thats justificationenough for both the works on thisdisc.
I dont want to slight the excel-lent orchestra, but its Lubins inti-mate mastery of the fortepiano thatmakes this recording such a stand-
out. While amodernpiano is loudenough tocompetedirectly withthe orches-tra, the
fortepiano must achieve a harmo-nious balance (the technical aspectsof which are handled very wellhere). Lubin uses its more subtlepalette as a way to peel back thelayers of Mozarts music, uncover-ing surprising abstractions in No. 1