Kaspar Förster

Les Traversées Baroques
Chemins du Baroque CDB001

[dropcap]C[/dropcap]ontinuing her mission of bringing to proper prominence the music of 17th-century Poland, Judith Pacquier has teamed up with director Etienne Meyer to showcase the work of Kaspar Förster. The music in this programme is smaller scale, more concentrated and more adventurous than the Mielczewski and the Zielenski of the previous recordings. Förster studied with Carissimi and it is impossible not to hear echoes of the latter’s Jepthe in the harmonic twists in the first psalm Confitebor tibi Domine. The excellent sleeve notes tell us that the introduction of such seconda practica  into the Hanseatic bridgehead of Gdansk gave rise to a “mini Thirty Years War” of musical controversy – only resolved, it seems, when more names were invented to give decent separations between ever more avant-guarde styles. Instrumental styles were also beginning to dominate musical lines, and the singing is suitably virtuosic. In particular, the soprano Anne Magouët creates line, life and energy, totally transcending the coloratura. Instrumental contributions (to both vocal and purely instrumental pieces) involve two cornettinos, two violins, dulcian and gamba. What makes the instrumental playing especially attractive is the fact that within each pair of instruments, each one says the same thing but finds its own voice to say it. (Judith Pacquer and William Dongois, cornettino; Stéphanie Erös and Josèphe Cottet, violin.) This personality, added to wonderful playing, makes the performance particularly engaging. The dulcian of Mélanie Flahaut combines complete fluency with marvellous bounce and life – taking hold of the shape of the music as a whole. There is music that plays with the edges of harmonic possibilities, beautifully shaped lines and a clear concept of the music in performance – recorded with an excellent natural balance and spacing. A gem.

Stephen Cassidy

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