Baroque Consolation

Sacred Arias at the Imperial Viennese Court
Sarah Van Mol, Oltremontano, Wim Becu
Accent ACC 24349
Music by Caldara, Conti, Emperor Joseph I, Froberger, Fux, Muffat, Pachelbel, M. A. & P. A. Ziani

The enormous affluence and political success of late-17th- and early 18th-century Vienna allowed it to support a cultural life of the highest standard, and master musicians, many of them Italian, flocked to the Imperial Court. One such was Pietro Andrea Ziani, whose nephew Marc’Antonio took his uncle’s winning formula of motets for solo voice with two obbligato violins and developed it into the distinctively Viennese form in which the violins were replaced by an obbligato trombone. A family of trombone virtuosi, the Christians, flourished in Vienna on the back of this vogue, and veteran Baroque trombonist Wim Becu – a stalwart of many period brass ensembles – brings this neglected repertoire vividly to life here. The sweet-voiced Sarah Van Mol is also a positive asset here, singing with beautiful clarity and expressiveness. Further character is added by the use of the 18th-century ‘Ziverin Orgel’ by J B Forceville for solo items by Pachelbel and Froberger, while a 2013 Jos Moors organ adds distinctive colour to a number of the ensemble motets. These are persuasive performances of repertoire which, notwithstanding pioneering work by the great René Clemencic, remains underperformed. Perhaps Vienna should reserve some of the stardust lavished so generously on the Strauss family for composers such as Georg Muffat and Johann Joseph Fux who did so much to put Vienna on the musical map.

D. James Ross

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