Konge af Danmark: Musical Europe at the court of Christian IV

Les Witches
68:30
Alpha 323
Music by Bleyer, Borchgrevinck, Gistou, Hume, Lorenz, Maercker, Maynard, Pedersen, Robinson, Scheidt, Schop, Simpson & Vierdanck

The star of this 2008 recording of music associated with the court of Christian IV of Denmark is undoubtedly the Esaias Compenius organ of 1610, which features on several of the tracks. Originally built for the royal court, it was clearly intended to play with other instruments, and Freddy Eichelberger charms some wonderful sounds from it in solos and in consort with the other instruments. Music by the maverick Tobias Hume and by Samuel Scheidt features as well as work by the less familiar composers, Robert Simpson, Thomas Robinson, Nicolaus Bleyer, Mogens Pederson, Johann Lorenz, Johann Schop, Johann Vierdanck, Matthäus Maerker, Melchior Borchgrevinck, John Maynard and Nicolo Gistou. Their names suggest the eclectic nature of the Danish court at the time and its close associations with England, Scotland and continental Europe. The music includes Pavans and Galliards among other dance forms and domestic sacred instrumental pieces – the two settings of the Lord’s Prayer are redolent of the Lessones on Psalms  being composed at the time in Scotland – and the range of wind and stringed instruments offered by Les Witches ensures that the ear is always thoroughly entertained. The CD creates a beguilingly colourful picture of Christian IV’s court, thronged with gifted musicians and featuring the crowning glory of the characterful Compenius organ. The only disappointment with this CD is the programme note which takes the form of one of these staged conversations among the performers – heavy on impressions and light on information – which I always find maddening. Thankfully their day seems to have largely passed!

D. James Ross