New from Wanhall

Jean Sigismond Cousser (Kusser): La cicala della cetra d’Eunomio Suite Nr. 3
Sechs Consortsuiten für 2 Oboen, Fagott, Streicher & B. c., Urtextausgabe – Herausgegeben von Michael Robertson
Walhall EW748 (Edition Schönborn)
14 + 34pp, €29.80 (score and parts)

This impressive volume comes with three wind parts, five string parts and an optional written-out continuo realization.It is prefaced by a letter from the current Count of Schönborn-Wiesentheid, whose library contains (amongst many other jewels) the remained of the original print of this set; Robertson, whose doctoral thesis was on such repertoire, wisely adds a Basse de violon  to the seven surviving part-books. After an overture come a Sommeil, a Trio de Flûtes (where recorders replace the oboes above the violas), Les Songes, Les mesmes, Marche (key changes from D minor to D major), Trio doucement, Les Gladiateurs, Air (back to D minor), Polichinelles, Arlequins and finally an Air Gayment. Most are through composed, but some are bi-partite. Cousser/Kusser deserves to be better known and Robertson’s plans to issue all six works are to be welcomed.

Caldara: Missa Sancti Francisci
Herausgegeben von Alexander Opatrny
Walhall EW 539
5 + 64pp

This is a substantial volume for a not terribly substantial piece; the Gloria is under 70 bars and the Credo a little over a hundred. That is not to say that the music is not very much worth exploring – Caldara writes well for chorus and, although there are solo sections throughout the work, they are not beyond most amateur singers and could easily be taken by members of a decent choir. It could have been half its size, had the doubling instruments (cornetto and two trombones at the top of the score and bassoon just above the continuo line) been assigned to that very role and their staves combined with the appropriate voice. I doubt I will be alone in finding the distribution of the staves awkward either in passages where the bassetto  is supplied by the violins, which are printed above the voices. The introduction and critical notes are only given in German. The score retails at €28.50, with a vocal score and parts also available.

Schultze: Konzert B-Dur für Altblockflöte, Streicher und Basso continuo
Herausgegeben von Klaus Hofmann
Walhall EW 986
5 + 40pp

The editor of this three movement work has tried – thusfar in vain – to identify the composer; giving him the christian names Johann Christian is apparently an educated guess. Be that as it may, this high baroque concerto with a first movement full of arpeggios and scales, a central adagio in which the strings accompany pizzicato until the final sudden dramatic tutti and a bi-partite triple time finale that adds wide leaps to the technical demands made of the soloist is certainly one that players will welcome. €21.80 for the score, with parts and a keyboard reduction also available.

Next in the pile were three editions of arias for voice, soprano recorder, strings and continuo. The earliest is Pepusch’s “Chirping warblers” (EW 980, mezzo, recorder, violin, violin/viola and continuo, 3 + 10pp, €17.50) which was part of a 1715 masque, Venus and Adonis. The original performances involved multiple violinists but editor Peter Thalheimer suggests that one can play the upper string part and another Pepusch’s viola line (which he prints in treble clef). At 49 bars in length, it is not a huge piece, but singers and recorder players alike will enjoy this addition to their repertoire. The set includes a second score without a cover and the necessary parts.

“Quell’ esser misero” by Alessandro Scarlatti (EW 978, soprano, recorder, violin and continuo, 4 + 7pp, €16) is from his 1698 opera, “Il prigioniero fortunato”. A through-composed work of a little over 50 bars (if the vide  mark is ignored!), the voice part intertwines with recorder and violin (who overlap but never play together), and the final instrumental phrase ignores the wind instrument and adds a second violin and viola. Thalheimer includes parts for all of the instruments and a second score without cover.

The third is “Cares when they’re over” from Francesco Bartolomeo Conti’s opera “Clotilda” (EW 999, soprano, soprano recorder or violin, strings and continuo, 4 + 10pp, €16.50). This is a full-blooded Da Capo aria with recorder and full string section. Once again the set includes everything required for a performance. The recorder part is quite demanding, while the voice is more charming and graceful, which is always an enjoyable contrast in concert.

Vandini: Konzert D-Dur für Violoncello Solo, 2 Violinen, Viola & B. c.
Herausgegeben von Markus Möllenbeck
Walhall EW 967
8 + 15pp, €16.50

As a colleague and close friend of both Vivaldi and Tartini, it will come as no surprise to discover that this three movement concerto poses considerable challenges to anyone who wishes to play it – double stopping, very high and intricate passagework, extended string crossing motifs. The central andantino is slightly odd in featuring a rather bland solo violin part above the solo cello and continuo; the editor suggests this was undoubtedly for Tartini, but I fear even he would have had his work cut out to make it interesting; of course, the solo cellist has a much easier job, given that (s)he starts on the first beat and ends on the last with no breaks in between. It would be interesting to hear the work, if only to see if it works aurally in which it does not visually.

Brian Clark