Fux: Concentus Musico-instrumentalis

Neue Hofkapelle Graz, Lucia Froihofer, Michael Hell
121:34 (2 CDs in a jewel case)
cpo 777 980-2

Out of interest I played this in my car recently while ferrying colleagues to a meeting just to gauge their impressions of the music. Although what one might call fans of classical music, none of them has a particular interest in the HIP approach. One thought it sounded quite French, another more Italian, one thought it sounded like Handel, the other like Purcell. In fact, that was precisely how I myself reacted to hearing these seven richly varied works from Fux’s collection; with one exception (a “sinfonia” for recorder, oboe, “basso” and “cembalo”), they are primarily “orchestral”, though the texture varies from a4 (purely strings), through a8 (adding a woodwind trio) to a8 (a pair of trumpets add lustre to the sound). The Neue Hofkapelle Graz further vary the sound by using single strings for some pieces and multiples for the rest. This gives a great overall impression of the ways such music would have been performed in Fux’s day. The recorded sound is excellent and – apart from the occasional superfluous use of percussion – I thoroughly enjoyed both discs. While such additions are perhaps part and parcel of a live performance (which only lives on in the memory), for a recording they are an unnecessary distraction (and not something one can “un-hear” on subsequent listenings).

Brian Clark