“Treasury of the German Baroque” = Works of QUANTZ, BUXTEHUDE, TELEMANN, PACHELBEL, FASCH, LUBECK, BACH – The Hanoverian Ensemble – MSR Classics

by | Aug 19, 2011 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

“Treasury of the German Baroque” = JOHANN JOACHIM QUANTZ: Trio Sonata in C Major for recorder, transverse flute and continuo; Duet in A Minor, Op. 2, No. 2, for two transverse flutes; BUXTEHUDE: Praeludium in C Major, BuxWV 137, for organ; TELEMANN: Trio Sonata in A Major, TWV 42:A2, for two transverse flutes and continuo; Sonata in E Minor, TWV 40:146, for two transverse flutes; PACHELBEL: Fantasia in D Minor for organ; Arietta with Variations in F Major for organ; JOHANN FRIEDRICH FASCH: Sonata in G Major for transverse flute, two recorders, and continuo; VINCENT LÜBECK: Preambulum in C Minor, No. 2, for organ; BACH: An Wasserflüssen Babylon, BWV 653, for organ – The Hanoverian Ensemble – MSR Classics MS 1380 [Distr. by Albany], 64:32 ****:
“Treasury” or “Omnium Gatherum”? I’d go for the former title to this collection if it weren’t for the inclusion of the organ works, presumably included to give organist Kent Tritle of the Hanoverian Ensemble more to do; he also provides the expert harpsichord continuo support throughout. The inclusion of these works is a bit jarring when listening, even though I’m prepared for the experience. You may find them an arresting interlude to the other pieces; in fact at least three of them are dramatic enough to break any reveries you may have fallen into while listening to the gentle strains of flute and recorder. And I guess the three works—by Buxtehude, Pachelbel, and Lübeck—are rare enough to be welcome additions to one’s library, though they make me want to hear a full program of each composer’s music rather than an isolated example.
Anyway, whatever your reaction to the disc, the organ pieces are very well played by Tritle on the Paul Fritts & Company tracker organ at Vassar College, a lovely-sounding instrument based on German Baroque models. The Mary Ann Fox Martel Recital Hall, where this and all the pieces were recorded, must have nigh-perfect acoustics, because the organ registers cleanly, with a firm bass and no acoustic overhang—just a pleasing brief decay.
Speaking of rarity, despite the inclusion of the much-recorded Georg Philipp Telemann, the Hanoverian Ensemble manages to feature works that have been rarely, if ever, recorded before. At least, except for the fairly familiar Sonata in E Minor for Two Flutes, most of the works performed here have no current alternatives no disc. If I have a favorite among these pieces, it’s probably the lead-off one by Johann Quantz, who is something of a connoisseur’s composer. His trio sonata is anything but generic Baroque, each movement well crafted, with good melodies, the most striking being the crisp Vivace last movement. Quantz, the best flutist of his day and teacher to Frederick the Great of Prussia, give his performers no quarter. And while recorder player Richard Wynton and flutist John Solum are certainly up to the task, articulation here and in other fast movements featuring recorder and flute is not always impeccably clean. For the most part, however, the Hanoverian Ensemble plays quite beautifully on period-authentic instruments; the charming Telemann Sonata for Two Flutes, which I’ve heard only in modern-instrument performances, is a revelation in its dulcet and very intimate sound here. As expected, more challenges in the Quantz Sonata for Two Flutes, beautifully handled by Solum and Wynton (who may be more comfortable on flute).
The program ends with a second organ work by Pachelbel—the first, the bracing Fantasia in D Minor. This second piece is a set of variations that give both organist and organ a workout, showing off the ear-teasing range of colors available on the Fritts organ. I still think for a moment that I’m hearing the last piece in an organ recital, but just for a moment. Despite the odd mix, there are lots of pleasures to enjoy here, both from the King of Instruments and its sweet-voiced woodwind cousins.
—Lee Passarella