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Jéliote, haute-contre de Rameau

Reinoud Van Mechelen

Mélodies - Released September 3, 2021 | Alpha Classics

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The haute-contre voice has these days faded from general musicological discussion to such a degree that it doesn’t even get an entry in the big-name music dictionary sitting on this particular critic’s shelf. Yet in the French Baroque and Classical period, from Lully and Rameau to Gluck, this high tenor voice – sitting in the alto range, but unlike the countertenor voice appearing to have been achieved largely without employing falsetto – was the one for which many of the leading heroic and amatory roles were penned, and could perhaps be seen as an important stepping stone towards the tenor voice eventually pinching the lead roles being from countertenors. All of which makes tenor Reinoud Van Mechelen’s “Haute-Contre Trilogy” a fascinating addition to the catalogue. This second volume of the trilogy (following a first devoted to Louis Gaulard Dumesny, for whom Lully created many of his main roles) sees him and his ensemble turn their attentions to Rameau’s favourite singer, Pierre de Jéliote (1713-1797), who made his sung stage debut in 1733 at the Concert Spirituel, before retiring from singing in 1765 to instead join the King’s Orchestra as a violinist and guitarist. Repertoire-wise, there’s all sorts to enjoy. Inevitably, Rameau’s operas feature strongly, with offerings from Les Boréades, Castor et Pollux, Hippolyte et Aricie, Les Fêtes d’Hébé and Platée. However we’ve very much been given the full 360-degree tour of de Jéliote’s landscape, with Dauvergne, Colin de Blamont, Mondonville, Rebel and Francoeur also on the bill. Van Mechelen himself is clear-toned and agile, bringing gentle poetry to the clearly amatory airs; and while it’s a light voice, it’s not without its power when he chooses, and you’ll by turns hear it all across Rebel’s multi-faceted Muses, je viens encor. That particular air equally showcases the sensitive, crisply light and fleet-footed support from A Nocte Temporis, with some especially enjoyable woodwind playing, across both their tutti and chamber-textured moments; and indeed the icing on the programming cake overall are the solo ensemble moments punctuating the album at regular intervals – not least the overture to Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie with which it begins. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Lamento

Fretwork

Chamber Music - Released August 27, 2021 | Signum Records

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Counter-tenor Iestyn Davies and the viol consort Fretwork present a new recording of German works for viol consort and voice drawn from 17th-century, following their critically-praised 2019 album of works by Michael Nyman and Henry Purcell. Featuring performances from organist Silas Wollston and counter-tenor Hugh Cutting, the recital ranges widely over the 17th century – from the early years with three curiously similar sounding friends: Schein, Scheidt and Schütz, to the most significant member of the Bach family before Johann Sebastian, Johann Christoph Bach. From their they travel down North Sea to the foothills of the Alps, including Buxtehude’s predecessor at the Marienkirche in Lübeck – Franz Tunder (whose daughter Buxtehude was to marry) and another north German composer who worked in Copenhagen, Christian Geist. Giovanni Felice Sances is an outlier here: he was born in Rome, but spent the second part of his life working for three successive Emperors in Vienna, where viol playing was still very much in vogue. In 2021, Fretwork celebrates its 35th anniversary. In the past three and a half decades they have explored the core repertory of great English consort music, from Taverner to Purcell, and made classic recordings against which others are judged. In addition to this, Fretwork have become known as pioneers of contemporary music for viols, having commissioned over 40 new works. Iestyn Davies is a British countertenor widely recognised as one of the world’s finest singers celebrated for the beauty and technical dexterity of his voice and intelligent musicianship. © Signum Classics
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Baroque

Nicola Benedetti

Classical - Released July 16, 2021 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Decca Classics is thrilled to announce a new Baroque album from violinist Nicola Benedetti. This is the first album she has released on a period set-up including gut strings, and she is joined by a leading group of freelance baroque musicians, forming the Benedetti Baroque Orchestra - for the very first time. The album features a selection of concerti by Vivaldi plus Geminiani’s incredible arrangement of Corelli’s La Folia, one of the oldest western classical themes which has been arranged by many composers over time, particularly in the baroque era. Geminiani was one of the greatest violinists of the era and Corelli was one of his teachers whilst growing up in Italy. Later when he moved to London, Geminiani reworked a number of Corelli’s works for local audiences including this arrangement of La Folia. © Decca Classics
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"Générations" Senaillé & Leclair : Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord

Théotime Langlois de Swarte

Classical - Released July 16, 2021 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet
To say that young French baroque violin star Théotime Langlois de Swarte has begun his solo recording career with a bang of prolificity and brilliance is something of an understatement. First, in 2020, we had “The Mad Lover”, a beautifully conceived and executed concept album exploring the 17th century English notion of melancholy via composers such as Henry Purcell and John Eccles. Then at the start of 2021 came Proust, “Le Concert retrouvé”, recreating a 1907 concert at the Paris Ritz programmed and hosted by Marcel Proust. Now here’s “Générations”, an album every bit as fine as its predecessors, with also a couple of key differences. Topmost of these is that, while Langlois de Swarte’s chamber partners for those first two albums were rising stars of his own generation, in the form of lutenist Thomas Dunford for “The Mad Lover” and pianist Tanguy de Williencourt for Proust, his “Générations” partner is fifty years his senior – early music luminary, William Christie, with whose Les Arts Florissants Langlois de Swarte plays in addition to his own period ensemble Le Consort. Then also because this isn’t so much a concept album as one aiming to ignite modern interest in a forgotten star of early eighteenth century French instrumental music, Jean-Baptiste Senaillé (1697-1764), by placing his sonatas alongside those of a famous violinist figure of the generation just above him, Jean-Marie Leclair (1697-1730). What both composers have in common is their melding of Italian virtuosity with French music’s characteristic elegance, melodicism and dance allusions. It almost goes without saying that Christie and Langlois de Swarte make for a delectable musical match, but the closeness of the partnership really does shine out. The recording sessions took place in the living room of Christie’s home in the Vendée, giving them both an intimate environment with no time constraints, and the album opens with one of the fruits of that privileged set-up: a lyrically melancholic Gavotte in E minor by Leclair, originally for two violins, which the pair transcribed for harpsichord and violin, Christie adding a second melody line for himself. As for Senaillé, “a minor figure but a great master”, is how Christie himself describes him, and that analysis feels spot on. Take the Sonata in G minor, Op. 1 No. 6 from his Premier Livre de Sonates à violon seul avec la basse continue, published in Paris in 1710, whose opening Largo prelude strikes instantly for its emotional intensity, and for the satiny smoothness with which Langlois de Swarte delivers his violin line’s wide intervallic leaps; and the pair produce something very special as they dig deep into its dark mournfulness. Pleasures of a different shape then come with the concluding Gavotte’s virtuosic violin writing, including ear-grabbing double-stopped passages. Or for a particularly colourful instance of Senaillé taking the Italian style and making it his own, jump to the final Allegro assai of his third book’s Sonata in D major, Op. 3 No. 10 (this one published 1716): a syncopated, stabbing bass drone from the harpsichord to start, onto which the violin dances a rustic folky melody which later incorporates cuckoo call bariolage – a Vivaldian motif in itself, but one that’s here thoroughly reimagined into a French musical style. Essentially, you can hear exactly why all five of Senaillé books of sonatas were reprinted numerous times in his lifetime. Also why, for Langlois de Swarte, the only way is up. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Montigny: Grands Motets

Ensemble Antiphona

Classical - Released June 25, 2021 | Paraty

Hi-Res Booklet
"This Valette is one of the most stupendous geniuses we have and his music is stupendous too". This is how the famed Sebastian de Brossard introduces his contemporary composer Joseph Valette de Montigny. Though acknowledged for its qualities, Montigny’s music has very rarely been played. Nor has it ever been recorded. Simply on account of its rarity and the absence of scores, it has remained unpublished. Thanks to this recording on which two great motets are performed, Antiphona Ensemble and its director Rolandas Muleïka are filling a vacuum. These motets are two outstanding pieces in Joseph de Montigny’s catalogue. Musicologist Benoît Michel, who died at a very young age, was the main instigator of this felicitous rediscovery: he would undoubtedly have felt enthusiastic about the release of this recording. This presentation draws to a large extent upon his work. © 2021 Paraty
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Picchi: Complete Harpsichord Music and Other Venetian Gems

Simone Stella

Miscellaneous - Released June 25, 2021 | Brilliant Classics

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The only complete survey available of the keyboard music written by a forward-looking contemporary of Monteverdi. Giovanni Picchi (1572-1643) flourished in Venice, notably as the organist at the Scuola di San Rocco. He became renowned as a composer of both secular and sacred music, attested by his presence in the Nobiltà di dame by Fabrizio Caroso, the most important collection of dance music of the time. A collection of his canzone was published in 1625 and his fame spread to England, where a Toccata for Harpsichord was transcribed within the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book (of which Brilliant has recently released the first-ever complete recording). In 1619, Picchi published Intavolatura di balli d’arpicordo, one of the rare collections of music for keyboard moulded on contemporary dance music. The majority of Picchi's dances are composed in pairs. Three of the four Passamezzos are followed by a Saltarello in triple meter. The short dances in duple meter (Ballo alla Polacha, Ballo Ongaro and the Todescha) conclude with either a balletto or saltarello in triple meter. The Padoana ditta la Ongara and the Ongara a un altro modo obviously form a single composition consisting of variations. Other important sources for his keyboard music include collections published in Venice in 1621 and an undated collection of intablatures (transcriptions and elaborations of music by other composers) which is now held in Turin. Together they amount to some of the most brilliant and appealing music for the harpsichord from 17th-century Italy. Picchi’s harmonic language was especially daring, and his flair as a performer is reflected in the style of his writing, which exploits the full range of the instrument. In complement to Picchi’s work, Simone Stella has chosen other jewels from Venetian composers of the time: toccatas, ricercare and canzone by Annibale Padovano, Claudio Merulo, Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli and Vincenzo Bellavere. Bellavere is another neglected figure nowadays, but the Toccata recorded here is a gloriously ornate example of the genre, alternating intricate counterpoint with filigree decoration. Played on the harpsichord by Simone Stella. © Brilliant Classics
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Je m'abandonne à vous

Angélique Mauillon

Mélodies - Released June 18, 2021 | harmonia mundi

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Henriette de Coligny, Comtesse de La Suze, was more than just a woman of letters admired in her time, even by the very demanding Boileau. It was as a free woman that she married for love; after the death of her husband, a second one was forced on her, but, still a free woman, she demanded to be ‘de-married’! Surrounded by expert musicians, Marc Mauillon shows us that her précieux poetic universe mixes tenderness with the most unexpected strokes of audacity, so much so that her verse inspired many composers of the Grand Siècle –and after! © harmonia mundi
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Albero : Sonatas para clavicordio I-XV

Mario Raskin

Classical - Released April 9, 2021 | Pierre Verany

Booklet
Sebastián de Albero is less well known than his contemporaries José de Nebra, Antonio Soler, the great Farinelli, and, of course, Domenico Scarlatti. Nonetheless, his sonatas are appreciated by many harpsichordists who readily include them in their repertoire alongside those of Scarlatti, Soler, or Seixas. However, his oeuvre, limited owing to his premature death at the age of 34, gives us a glimpse of a musician brimming with originality and creativity. Sebastián de Albero died in 1756, leaving a collection of 30 sonatas, made up of 14 pairs of sonatas in the same key, and two fugues, one in position 15 to mark the end of the first part, which figures precisely in this recording, and the other at the very end to definitively close the cycle. Like Scarlatti’s sonata collections, Sebastián de Albero’s was found in Italy, specifically in Venice’s Marciana Library, surely brought by Farinelli, to whom Queen Maria Barbara had bequeathed her musical library as well as some of her keyboard instruments. It is interesting to pause for a moment on the case of the first two sonatas on this programme, which in fact seem to be related to two sources: first, with Sebastián de Albero at the beginning of his collection (Sonatas 1 and 2), and also in the copy of a collection of sonatas attributed to Scarlatti (Sonatas 11 and 12). This latter collection belonged to Ignacia Ayerbe (or Eyerbe), a young harpsichordist and very probably a student of Albero’s. It was seemingly Albero himself who introduced his own sonatas among those of the Neapolitan master, in homage to his colleague. This would prove to us that the two musicians knew each other and that they might have collaborated. Certain sources advance the hypothesis that Albero was one of the copyists of the collections of Scarlatti sonatas intended for Queen Maria Barbara. Yet a notable difference between the two emerges from the theme used by Albero, which is already closer to the aesthetic of musicians of Northern Europe, in particular Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach, who opened the way to the new tastes that were dominant throughout Europe in the late 18th century. (© Maria Raskin translated by John Tyler Tuttle / Pierre Vérany - Arion)
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Vivaldi : Concerti Particolari

Enrico Onofri

Classical - Released March 26, 2021 | Passacaille

Hi-Res Booklet
Vivaldi’s Concerti ripieni are probably the most unusual works written by the Venetian composer. Some of these pieces, however, are particularly exceptional for various reasons, especially considering the artistic environment in early 18th century Venice. This recording presents Vivaldi’s most brilliant and at the same time bizarre works from this genre. These compositional experiments are sometimes quite extreme and far ahead of their time, such as the enigmatic Concerto conca, the solemn Sinfonia Al Santo Sepolcro, the avant-garde and at the same time archaic Concerto alla Rustica. This recording is the first collaboration of the Academia Montis Regalis with Enrico Onofri as principal conductor. © Passacaille
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Bach : h-Moll Messe, BWV 232

Stephan MacLeod

Classical - Released March 26, 2021 | Claves Records

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The Mass in B minor holds a very special place in J.S. Bach’s output: a work of grandeur, an opus ultimum, it was not composed as such but is the result of an assembly of pieces written at different times and for different circumstances. Bach worked on it during the years 1748-1749, until his eyesight, which had gradually deteriorated, was completely lost. The idea of bringing together pieces drawn essentially from the vast corpus of cantatas was not unusual; a similar approach was taken by several of his contemporaries, such as Handel, and Bach himself had done so for the short masses he composed in the late 1730s. These were called parodies. Moving from the German text of the cantatas to the Latin text of the masses meant adapting the vocal lines, with additions and deletions, polyphonic and harmonic enrichments, and changes in instrumentation. Throughout his life, Bach never ceased to revisit his works with a view to improving them.
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Buxtehude: Sonatine à doi, Violine & Viola da Gamba, Op.1-2

Les Timbres

Classical - Released February 26, 2021 | Flora

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
Buxtehude’s Opus 1 and Opus 2 Sonatas for violin, viola da gamba and harpsichord belie the composer’s common image as austere and sober. They instead delight the listener with what Johann Mattheson, writing in 1739, called their « unfamilar progressions, hidden ornamentation, and ingenious colourations ». It comes as no surprise to learn that the Sonatas were a great success when they were first published in Germany in the 1690s, in the midst of the fashion for the "stylus fantasticus" (described by Athanasius Kircher in 1650 as “…especially suited to instruments. It is the most free and unrestrained method of composing, it is bound to nothing, neither to any words nor to a melodic subject. It was instituted to display genius, and to teach the hidden design of harmony and the ingenious composition of harmonic phrases and fugues"). These Sonatas are undoubtedly challenging, which is no doubt why there have been so few complete recordings. For their fourth album, the founding trio of Les Timbres – Yoko Kawakubo, Myriam Rignol, and Julien Wolfs – take up the challenge with brio, joyously returning to their roots in Baroque chamber music to uncover all the intricacies of these very special works. © Flora

Praetorius and Italy

Florian Helgath

Classical - Released February 19, 2021 | deutsche harmonia mundi

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Schütz: Musicalische Exequien - 17th C. German funeral music

Voces Suaves

Classical - Released February 12, 2021 | Arcana

Hi-Res Booklet
Johann Hermann Schein, Sebastian Knüpfer, Johann Schelle, Andreas Gleich, Johann Georg Ebeling, Johannes Kessel, Johann Rosenmüller – all names that are unlikely to be familiar to you, unless you happen to be especially knowledgeable on the subject of early German Baroque composers. Yet all enjoyed esteemed reputations in their day, and three of them – Schein, Knüpfer and Schelle – were actually predecessors of Johann Sebastian Bach in the lofty role of Leipzig ThomasKantor. Then even less familiar to most listeners will be the music these men composed for funeral services, because when each service's music was created specifically for that one event, and reflected the tastes and choices of the deceased person it honoured, it didn't make sense to publish it for wider performance. Consequently, the first thing to point about about this programme of seventeenth century German funeral music from Basel-based vocal ensemble Voces Suaves under Johannes Strobl, is the feast of unknown repertoire presented around its central performance of Schütz's Musikalische Exequien; because while Schütz was so proud of this structurally and texturally ambitious 1636 work for the funeral of Henry II, Count of Reuss-Gera, that he published it at his own expense that very year, the surrounding motets from his above-mentioned contemporaries have been transcribed specifically for this recording, direct from the original sources, with much of it recorded for the very first time. The performances themselves have more than done this rare repertoire justice, too: beautifully lucid textures both in the choral singing and the sensitive accompanying from violone, theorbo and organ; bright, clear-toned vocal tones, with a particularly exquisitely light and pure upper-register soprano sound on show in motets such as Gleich's Selig sind die Toten; crisp articulation and sombre, heartfelt expression of the texts overall. Add the fact that the back catalogue isn't bursting with previous recordings even of the Schütz, and this album is very welcome indeed. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Krieger : 12 Trio Sonatas, Op. 2

Christian Zincke

Chamber Music - Released January 8, 2021 | CPO

Booklet
It is difficult to understand why the twelve sonatas by Johann Philipp Krieger recorded here are almost completely forgotten today. Those who listen more closely to them will discover a rich cosmos of melodic, harmonic, and stylistic ideas that could hardly be rendered more vividly in musical tones. These Baroque sonatas seemingly randomly join together the most sparkling strands of pearls – short and very short little movements, spontaneous ideas, witty episodes, and oscillating emotional states in what are rapid and above all fascinating sequences. They are to be understood as little scenes of a musical drama “en miniature”. Krieger’s sonatas structured in small units recall characters on the stage in their careful design and perfect compositional-technical elaboration. They engage in cooperative action, oppose each other, and react to each other, enter into musical dialogue or competition, fall in love with each other and rise up in mutual embrace, and laugh or cry together – just as in real life. © CPO
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Au monde

Daniel Zapico

Classical - Released December 9, 2020 | Alborada

Distinctions Diapason d'or
« These transcriptions take full advantage of the characteristics of the theorbo, the fourteen-string baroque guitar with its deep and full sound which becomes absolutely fascinating and rich with Zapico. While his playing is highly sensitive, he also dares to make the music edgier, sharper and more expressive. So, Zapico delivers 50 minutes of music of gripping intensity and inner power. The always songful pieces, for all their inviting friendliness, are also complex, and are presented in a light that one neither can nor wants to escape. The sound of the recording is equally splendid.» (Pizzicato, January 2021 / Remy Franck)
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Bach : Trios pour clavier et violon

Freddy Eichelberger

Classical - Released November 6, 2020 | L'Encelade

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) composed the six sonatas for keyboard and violin while he was in the service of Prince Leopold of Koethen (1717-1723), a period during which he focussed on composing secular instrumental music. These works were not written as sonatas for a melodic instrument and a basso continuo part performed on the keyboard, as was usually the case at that time - on the contrary, Bach composed these six sonatas as works for three voices, so they are true trio sonatas. One voice is allocated to the violin and two to the two hands on the keyboard, thus giving greater contrapuntal depth to the way that they are composed. This fresh take on these sonatas for keyboard and violin comes with an invitation to embark upon an organ-driven journey. The six sonatas have been broken down into three duos, each of which has been recorded using a different organ and violin combination, whilst at the same time remaining stylistically consistent with the types of instrument with which was Bach was familiar and which he himself played. The three organs are all in the East German style and the violin-makers who inspired the instruments used for the recordings were contemporaries of Bach. The programme also offers a seventh sonata for keyboard and violin (BWV 1028) which is far better known in its version for the viola de gamba. It also includes two less well-known violin and basso continuo sonatas by Bach, inspired by the Italian style, which allows the listener to get a better grasp of the difference between the two compositional models. Freddy Eichelberger has also chosen to introduce the works for keyboard and violin with solo organ pieces which act rather like preludes, thus highlighting the sonority of each of the instruments. In this boxset, which celebrates a thirty-year musical bond between Odile Edouard and Freddy Eichelberger, it is used a different organ and violin pairing, so three sites were selected, mainly because they had the right kinds of organ for the project and were easily accessible. These were the church of Saint-Louis de Saint Étienne (Haute-Loire), the Temple de Boudry (Switzerland) and the Temple du Foyer de l’Âme (Paris). © L'Encelade

Händel : Alexander's Feast or The Power of Music

Lorenzo Ghirlanda

Classical - Released October 9, 2020 | deutsche harmonia mundi

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What's Next Vivaldi?

Patricia Kopatchinskaja

Classical - Released September 4, 2020 | Alpha Classics

Hi-Res Booklet
Giovanni Antonini and his ensemble Il Giardino Armonico celebrate the composer who made them famous: Antonio Vivaldi. Their recordings of the Four Seasons and Cecilia Bartoli’s famous first Vivaldi recital left an indelible mark on the discography of the Red-haired Priest! Their musical fireworks display continues with a programme of concertos that is bound to provoke strong reactions, since it is the result of a meeting with a musician who is equally adept at shifting boundaries, the violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja. Together they have devised a programme which interweaves ultra-virtuosic concertos by Vivaldi ("Il Grosso Mogul" RV 208, "La Tempesta di Mare" RV 253, and RV 157, 191, 550 among others) with, between each concerto, short pieces written by much more recent composers, Luca Francesconi, Simone Movio, Giacinto Scelsi, Aureliano Cattaneo and Giovanni Sollima, and mostly commissioned by Patricia Kopatchinskaja especially for this programme. © Alpha Classics
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Leopold I. : Il Sagrifizio d'Abramo - Miserere

Manfred Cordes

Classical - Released September 4, 2020 | CPO

Booklet
Leopold I., Holy Roman emperor during whose lengthy reign (1658–1705) — King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia, Archduchy of Austria —, assigned music a central place in the cultural life of Baroque era. He encouraged the production of music at his Vienna court and composed over 150 arias in Italian, some German-language oratorios and musical comedies, and many sacred works. His oratorio Il Sagrificio d'Abramo occupies a special place among Viennese Passion compositions because the figure of Isaac is described as a prefiguration of Christ. Since the librettist, Conte Caldana, places the sacrifice scene in the foreground in the first part of his text, an entirely new level of meaning is created. As a result, Ubidienza (Obedience) and Humanità (Humanity) become Abraham's partners in dialogue from the very beginning. Although Leopold was only twenty years old at the time, he was already a composer of true mastery who was also able in his music to capture in tones the hopelessness of the situation and in part to venture beyond the actual limits of tonality as observed and understood by his contemporaries. Leopold's Miserere is appealing above all because of its unusual instrumentation consisting exclusively of stringed instruments. (CPO)
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Telemann : Matthäus-Passion, TWV 5:15

Rupert Gottfried Frieberger

Classical - Released July 17, 2020 | Christophorus

Recording: Musikzentrum St. Norbert, Schlägl, Oberösterreich (Austria), 1985 (Coproduktion mit dem ORF - Landesstudio Oberösterreich). First release in 1986. Reissued March 1st, 2010 and July 7, 2020