The Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, or properly, Freiburger Barockorchester, was founded in 1987 in the German city known as the unofficial "Capital of the Black Forest" by a group of students who shared an interest in playing Baroque music on authentic musical instruments. The first three years of its existence, the Freiburger Barockorchester performed without a conductor, preferring to select a musician from within its own ranks to lead its music on a case-by-case basis. Nevertheless, in 1990 Thomas Hengelbrock was named joint musical director along with Gottfried von der Goltz, a situation that lasted until 1997 when Hengelbrock stepped down. His place was taken by Petra Müllejans, who leads the Freiburger Barockorchester in tandem with von der Goltz. Freiburger Barockorchester tours all over the world and records with frequency; it utilizes distinguished guest conductors on about a fourth of its public concerts, but not on recordings. Freiburger Barockorchester contributed some of the very best recordings to be issued by Deutsche Harmonia Mundi in the waning years of its association with BMG. The group's controversial recording of the J.S. Bach Mass in B minor, led by Hengelbrock and featuring the Balthasar-Neumann-Chor, is perhaps the only recording of this work in recent memory to approach Bach's masterwork from a genuinely new perspective. Since BMG folded its classical operation in 1999, Freiburger Barockorchester has appeared on the Virgin, Naïve, Harmonia Mundi, and Carus Verlag labels. Freiburger Barockorchester is also known for its capability in accompanying singers, such as Sandrine Piau and Angelika Kirchschlager, who appears with the group on Christmas DVD entitled Sounds for Christmas. Although it did not accompany Cecilia Bartoli on her recording Opera Proibita, Freiburger Barockorchester has accompanied Bartoli in touring with its program, with Müllejans leading the band. The Freiburger Barockorchester is a chamber group that is drawn from the inner ranks of the Freiburger Barockorchester.
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Symphonic Music - Released March 11, 2011 | harmonia mundi
Booklets Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
Georg Philipp Telemann's Tafelmusik is a collection of orchestral and chamber music in three large parts, each consisting of half a dozen works. It contains plenty of colorful music that's often heard by the piece, and the entire set, covering four CDs, represents a serious investment of time and money, even at the discounted price of this Harmonia Mundi release. Yet there's a strong case that a good Baroque music collection and certainly a library should contain a copy of the whole set, as indeed many collections did in the middle of the 18th century. The work's title and concept are modest: Tafelmusik means "table music," and each work in the individual sets is meant to correspond with a course of a meal. But the utilitarian veneer conceals an ambitious and synoptic work. The booklet notes (in French, English, and German) goes into quite a bit of detail: not only did Telemann participate in the ongoing effort to reconcile and combine the French and Italian styles, he also deepened his stylistic survey in several other ways. Most strikingly, he wrote French works with Italian elements, and vice versa. The Overture in D major that opens Part II (CD 2, tracks 10-14) is ostensibly a French form, but its individual movements avoid dance movements and instead exploit the group contrasts of Italian music. Further, the combination of orchestral and chamber music, which Telemann explicitly specified (and which ought to give pause to groups that automatically assume small ensembles are best), is unusual in itself. On top of all this, the occasional dashes of Polish folk rhythms (try the finale of the Quartet in D minor, CD 2, track 18) and the appearance of the new genres of sinfonia and quartet all combine to give the collection, taken as a whole, a brilliantly kaleidoscopic quality. The Freiburg Baroque Orchestra simply does not have a weak point in addressing the set's many demands. Vivacious soloists, crisp orchestral ensemble work, a certain feel for Telemann's pure flair: it's all here, and with absolutely top-notch sound, it adds up to a must-have for serious Baroque enthusiasts.
Concertos - Released August 29, 2011 | deutsche harmonia mundi
Classical - Released February 9, 2018 | harmonia mundi
It was for the occasion of the Covent Garden premiere of his oratorio Joshua in 1748, that Handel composed – or rather arranged – the first of his three Concerti a due cori (« Cori » does not mean here a vocal group, but two instrumental groups – two oboes, two horns, and one bassoon each, a total of ten soloists – answering to each other on the playing grounds provided by the strings), namely the HWV 332. At that time, it was customary to lighten up performances of the largest compositions, especially oratorios, with a sprinkling of instrumental pieces. But as Handel was a busy man and a businessman, and producing so much music so fast was no easy feat. This accounts for the fact that so many of his instrumental pieces are in fact recyclings – transcriptions, reorchestrations, transcriptions, according to what was available and requested – of earlier works, mostly his own, sometimes that of fellow composers – who would not necessarily be informed of the pillage. In the case of Concerto a due cori No. 1, Handel plundered a handful of his own operas and oratorios. The second of Handel's Concerti a due cori, HWV 333, written around the beginning of 1747, was premiered at Covent Garden in 1748 as part of a huge musical banquet, the main course of which was the brand new oratorio Alexander Balus. Here, the composer drew from some of his own English oratorios: Esther and Messiah, the latter still quite unknown. The wind groups take over melodic lines given to singers in the original choral versions of the adapted music. The third Concerto, HWV 334, contains mostly brand new music – yes! – even though the first movement is reworked in part from Handel's so-called Fitzwilliam Overture, for two clarinets and horn, while the concluding Allegro, with its brilliant and difficult horn writing, is a rewrite of a hunting aria from his own opera Partenope. For this recording, the Freiburger Barockorchester has added a twist: each soloist group is accompanied by its own string ensemble, thus creating a higly energetic stereo effect. One orchestra is conducted (from the violin) by Gottfried von der Goltz, the other – also from the Konzertmeister position – by Petra Müllejans. © SM/Qobuz
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