Ich schlief, da träumte mir

Anne Marie Dragosits harpsichrod
encelade ECL 2002

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This imaginative programme of movements associated with sleep and night-time in general from the late Baroque period features a wonderful harpsichord by Christian Zell and the equally impressive playing of Anne Marie Dragosits. Some purists may object to her extraction of individual movements from larger works by these German composers, but in reality many of these are pieces which are rarely played in their entirety anyway, and I found myself more intrigued by their shared and contrasting moods and idioms than by their lack of musical context. If sometimes the mood is slightly ‘souped up’ by Dragosits’ occasionally mannered presentation and changes of stops in mid-piece, I found myself less critical of this than you might expect, and by contrast I was engaged by the range of timbres she found in her remarkable instrument. Also, we shouldn’t underestimate the avant garde nature of some of this music from the late Baroque, a period when keyboard composers particularly were experimenting with unexpected harmonic progressions and melodic lines – perhaps they too were keen to emphasise these features in their performances. It was curious to find the constituent materials of the harpsichord – ‘diverse wood and metal, ivory, tortoise-shell’ (both mercifully long dead) – listed in the notes, but as the several illustrations in the booklet reveal this is a stunningly handsome instrument to look at as well as to listen to.

D. James Ross

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