GOTTLIEB MUFFAT: Componimenti Musicali per Il Cembalo (Musical Components) (complete) – Mitzi Meyerson, harpsichord – Glossa

by | Jun 18, 2009 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

GOTTLIEB MUFFAT: Componimenti Musicali per Il Cembalo (Musical Components) (complete) – Mitzi Meyerson, harpsichord – Glossa CD 921804 (2 CDs) 72:21, 77:46 *****:

What a delightful unfamiliar collection of harpsichord pieces! Dating from about 1736, they are the product of a composer who was devoted primarily to creating music for the keyboard.  Muffat had a long life as a musician in the Imperial Court in Vienna, dying in 1770. He also spent six years in Paris and was in contact with Lully. Gottlieb was a son of the much better-known Georg Muffat. Harpsichordist Mitzi Meyerson – who performs on a rich-sounding copy by Keith Hill of a Taskin double-manual instrument – has sought out previous harpsichord collections out of the mainstream. She has previously released complete recordings of suites of Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer and Georg Böhm.

Meyerson was struck by the wildly inclusive universe of different devices and national styles which Muffat covered in his set of seven suites in the collection – reworking them into his own highly individual style. She feels it is like a brand-new music in its assimilation of Italian toccatas, French overtures, German fugues, English hornpipes, and all sorts of dances, improvisations and character pieces.   Meyerson also states that there is nothing else quite like the Musical Components in keyboard literature. The suites are not arranged in chronological order; some have as many as nine movements and the last one has only one – a grand Chaconne. Muffat does not slavishly follow all the rules in composing at the time; his unorthodox pieces are full of unexpected twists and turns. Some sound like highly-ornamented French harpsichord music, others in the Italian style, and yet others in a more staid Germanic approach.

Time doesn’t permit listing all the suite titles, but most are in the French tradition, such as Courante, Rigaudon Bizarre (!), La Coquette, and Gigue.  Meyerson doesn’t lay on the full French level of ornamentation, adding it judiciously just when it seems to provide more interest in repeats and some empty-sounding sections. The recording, made in Berlin, is of the highest quality, and the notes are more enjoyable reading than most notes for recordings of this type. Altogether a gem of a collection for all early keyboard music fans. (And with a title that translates as it does, it should appeal strongly to audiophiles!)

— John Sunier