Heinichen: Italian Cantatas & Concertos

Terry Wey alto, Marie Friederike Schöder soprano
Batzdorfer Hofkapelle
Accent ACC 24309

[dropcap]L[/dropcap]argely thanks for Reinhard Goebel, Heinichen’s instrumental and orchestral music is fairly well known; similarly, Carus-Verlag’s series devoted to his masses has brought that repertoire to wider notice. The present disc sets out to explore yet another facet of the composer’s extensive output, his chamber cantatas. As well as one piece for alto obbligato theorbo and continuo dating from the composer’s time in Venice, the vocal works (one each for soprano and alto, plus a duet cantata) feature pairs of oboes and recorders (never simultaneously), strings (once without violas) and continuo.

The singers could not really be more different. Terry Wey is secure throughout his range, with some stylish ornamentation; Marie Friederike Schöder on the other hand, though she has a genuinely lovely voice, really struggles with some of Heinichen’s writing – in some places she even introduces what one of my friends used to call “notes of indeterminate pitch and duration” as she is tries her best to negotiate the leaps and bounds demanded of her.

The instrument contribution is delightful. Batzdorfer Hofkapelle (33211 strings with the winds, threorbo and harpsichord) play very nicely, and the two soloists (oboe suprema Xenia Löffler and Daniel Deuter on violin) have style in buckets; two “Vivaldian” three-movement concertos by the Dresden-based composer are perfect vehicles for their talents. Interestingly both survive only in sources at Darmstadt, showing how close the links between the two exceedingly musical courts (and their Leipzig-educated employees!) were at that time.

One grey mark for Accent – the texts are only translated from Italian into German, without so much as an internet link to French or English versions. Otherwise, with the one caveat touched on above, this is an enjoyable recital of music that definitely deserves to be better known.

Brian Clark

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