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Classical - Released May 25, 2012 | Challenge Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Chamber Music - Released June 5, 2020 | Pan Classics

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Classical - Released November 8, 2013 | Challenge Classics

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Classical - Released September 6, 2019 | Challenge Classics

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Chamber Music - Released January 27, 2015 | Pan Classics

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Classical - Released June 18, 2009 | Arcana

Booklet
Not too long ago, musicologists treated the seventeenth century as a period where instrumental music barely existed, as though there wasn't anything really noteworthy in terms of instrumental music before Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi apart from early English keyboard music. The revival of interest in Heinrich von Biber beginning in the 1960s brought about a revolution in that regard, and by the opening of the twenty first century the names of figures such as Johann Heinrich Schmelzer, Giovanni Felice Sances, and Johann Kasper Kerll are reasonably familiar ones to those who follow music of the early Baroque. Considerably less well known is that of Antonio Bertali, a musician in the Viennese royal chapel from the 1620s and, from 1649 until his death in 1669, served as kapellmeister in the Viennese court. In Arcana's Antonio Bertali: Prothima Suavissima Parte Seconda, Gunar Letzbor leads the Ars Antiqua Austria -- a group that has notably distinguished itself through recordings such as the superb Challenge Classics issue of Viennese lute concertos by Von Radolt -- though the posthumous 1672 print indicated in the title in its entirety. There is some measure of controversy as to who composed the 12 sonatas in this volume; in 1671, composer Samuel Capricornus printed a collection entitled Continuation der neuen wohl angestimten Taffelmusic, which duplicates six of these sonatas exactly, raising the issue of whether Capricornus -- a student and follower of Bertali -- "borrowed" these six sonatas from his then-departed master for his own publication or that the publisher might have used the Capricornus works to fill out a more commercially viable Bertali print. However, in listening one notes absolute unanimity of style between all 12 sonatas, and it is a solidly persuasive, elegant style as well. Compared to Biber, Bertali is not nearly as weird or experimental, but there are exploratory harmonic devices in use and plenty of the elements of surprise present for those already attuned to the early Baroque. Letzbor and the Ars Antiqua Austria make an excellent case for this mega-obscure music; some of the sonatas have appeared before on a Carus Verlag disc by the Freiburger Barockorchester Consort, but only there. The interpretations are smooth, yet lively, and fall easily on the ear without compromising Bertali's more challenging concepts, and Arcana's recording is pleasantly three-dimensional and present. © TiVo
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Classical - Released March 28, 2008 | Challenge Classics

All right, just who the heck was Wenzel Ludwig Edler von Radolt? He was a lutenist from Vienna, born in 1667 to a noble family; whether Radolt was a full-time professional lutenist, who rescinded his right to property, or amateur gentry is unclear, though he did state that he was "so allured by [...] music as to dedicate my whole life to her." He is known by a single publication, containing 12 "concertos" for lute, strings, and continuo, appearing at Vienna in 1701, Der Aller Treüeste Freindin (To All My Trusted Friends). This is not some obscure print fished out from the depths of a repository of musical arcana, but was a reasonably well-known publication still in print more than 20 years after Radolt died in 1716. This excellent Challenge Classics recording, featuring lutenist Hubert Hoffman with the Ars Antiqua Austria under Gunar Letzbor, is the first of anything from this print, and while it doesn't include all of the work, it provides a more than ample sampling of Radolt's effort to provide a measurable account of its thrust. These works are "concertos" in name only; they do not employ a consistent strategy of movements and are mainly suites of various dance movements, and in a few instances Ars Antiqua Austria singles out certain pieces as individual items. Radolt's work is based in folk music and most of it is disarmingly simple, though the lute writing is challenging. These pieces are mostly so direct and clear that they have an almost Anglican flavor, but Radolt does occasionally employ forms that are more complex, such as Passacaglia, and engages in contrapuntal writing that is foreign to the usual kinds of early eighteenth century prints devoted to amateur use; the Concerto in F major is particularly ambitious in this respect. The playing is both solid and sensitive, and while a concerto usually indicates a soloist versus ensemble connotation, the overall feeling here is one of ensemble unanimity; the violin part is as dominant as the lute in many sections. While Radolt may not have been the unequivocal genius his slightly later contemporary Antonio Vivaldi might have been, his lute concertos are highly musical, unusual, and still contain a recognizable measure of the elegance, fluff, and vivacity associated with great Viennese music of any historical period. © TiVo
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Classical - Released April 30, 2015 | Challenge Classics

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Chamber Music - Released June 26, 2020 | Pan Classics

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Classical - Released May 17, 2019 | Pan Classics

Booklet
Georg Muffat (1653-1704) after studying as a youngster with Lully in Paris, was involved most of his life with the Catholic Church. He worked as cathedral organist in Alsace, moved to Bavaria as a law student, and then settled for a time in Vienna. Following employment as organist to the Archbishop of Salzburg, interrupted by a period of study in Rome with the renowned keyboard player, Bernardo Pasquini, he took a final position as organist to the Bishop of Passau. Among his compositions is the Armonico Tributo of 1682, five multi-movement, five-voice sonatas which Muffat left open as to various instrumental possibilities, even including performance as concerti grossi. One easily hears the influence of Corelli, whom Muffat met while in Rome, but there are also moments when one surmises that Handel knew these scores well. The music, perfectly gorgeous in this smaller instrumental version, mixes the French and Italian styles, as well as chamber-sonata and sonata da chiesa movements. © Pan Classics
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Classical - Released March 23, 2018 | Accent

Booklet
More or less a contemporary of Corelli and Pachelbel, Romanus Weichlein (1652-1706) shares the fate of so many composers: widely-known while alive, he fell into oblivion when he died. But Weichlein still remains in the memories of many monasteries in which he was hired as a musician, in addition to his religious obligations since he was a Benedictine monk, especially in Salzburg but also in other lesser-known cities. He composed these masses for liturgical use around the years 1690-1700; and as you would imagine, at the time the soprano sections were sung by children. This is therefore precisely the case for this recording which is so authentic (or so we imagine) that the Latin is pronounced with a slight Austrian accent, rather distant from what we are used to hearing in the “Italian-style” liturgies. The audience is notified, of course, that these are boys’ choirs who sing here, as it happens the St. Florianer Sängerknaben (not everyone likes boys’ choirs…), which accompanies the Ars Antiqua Austria ensemble. It is also worth noting that some acts are preceded by a short moment of plainsong, probably as it was done at the time. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released July 3, 2020 | Pan Classics

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Classical - Released October 2, 2012 | Pan Classics

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Chamber Music - Released January 27, 2015 | Pan Classics

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Classical - Released September 7, 2012 | Challenge Classics