Eredità Galanti

Alberto Gaspardo organ
Barcode 8 05571 5 60000 9
SFB Records 002

Available from:

Like so many other musicians in the early 18th century, the Venetian-born Giovanni Battista Pescetti found his way to London in search of a career. The fact that he wrote so extensively for keyboard takes us back to his ancestry, and specifically his father Giaconto Pescetti, who was custodian of the organs in San Marco, and a famous builder of organs. One of the many delights of this CD is that the son’s music is played on an instrument built by the father. As the title of the CD suggests, Pescetti’s music is predominantly in the galant style, and as the excellent programme note points out his cantabile movements are particularly charming. The Pescetti organ in the Chiesa di S. Giacomo Apostolo in Polcenigo offers a pleasing range of stops, of which the organist Alberto Gaspardo makes full use. The decision to complete the programme with works by two composers born in 1991, Roberto Squillaci and Nathan Mondry, may have proved risky, except that the two young composers are clearly well-versed in Pescetti’s music and seem to be commenting on the galant style – while the latter is writing a form of pastiche, the former has a more pungent, angular response to Pescetti’s sound-world. Compared to the organ music of the Baroque and the Romatic eras. galant organ music of the 18th century is often overlooked, and it is a genuine delight to hear a programme like this, imaginatively and musically presented, and including modern works which comment so intelligently and sympathetically on the earlier repertoire.

D. James Ross


Jesu meine Freude

Ensemble BachWerkVokal, Gordon Safari
MDG Gold 923 2207-6

Click HERE to buy this at
[These sponsored links help the site remain alive and FREE!]

The neat concept behind this recording is both fascinating and attractive, drawing together works inspired that take their cue from the famous hymn, and observing how it ripples through time and the various composer’s works, thus delivering a stylistic overview. The CD is book-ended with Telemann’s offering from his “French Cycle” (the 1714/15 Neumeister variant)* and the wonderfully crafted setting by Johnn Ludwig Krebs. In between, we have the translucent motets of Johann Friedrich Doles and Johann Sebastian Bach, for four and five voices respectively. Within the limited accompaniment of these motets, we get some subtle variations, which feel just right, and the vocal lines are intimate and radiant, pert and clipped at the right time. The Doles variant of this famous Johann Frank hymn applies some slick touches of drama that stand out and impress. The Bach version (BWV227) is filtered through his great musical mind for some more conventional motet writing, and then delivers the goods with clever contrapuntal vocal threads, never losing sight of the hymn itself. One word of warning, though: no translation into English of these works, so swim well those who can – no life-jackets are supplied!

The opening Telemann cantata (TVWV 1:966) offers many attractions in its nine movements: the opening aria, Geht ihr heissen Seufzer… Klopfet… features four recorders “knocking” with soprano Electra Lochhead in full flow, hits the mark, and captivates. Before the final chorale, there is further descriptive writing in another stand-out aria: Schlage bald, gewünschte Stunde, with a mesmeric bell-motif. Listening blind, many might easily mistake the fine setting by Krebs (KWV110) for a lost JSB piece. It is tightly and neatly woven music with two sprightly oboes capturing the radiant hymnal theme. It is fascinating to hear the Krebs variant take on Schlage bald, geliebte Stunde!, here sung with great skill by the agile soprano Zsófia Szabó. Indeed, the singing from BachWerkVokal Salzburg throughout the disc is a rare delight, picking out the finery and drama, especially in the exposed intimacy of the motets.

This gathering of noteworthy works based on Johann Frank’s hymn displays various forms and styles in a way that cleverly reveals the development of musical styles over time. It is an innovative concept that the group under Gordon Safari has previously applied to “Singet dem Herrn”. A successful CD wrapped in MDG’s golden sound, it is also the first recording of the Telemann work, possibly also of the Doles and Krebs.

David Bellinger

* The complete recording of Telemann’s French Cycle will start on cpo in the Autumn.


Tormenti d’amore

Philipp Mathmann, Capella Jenensis, Gerd Amelung
82:13 (2 CDs in a card triptych)
Querstand VKJK 2002
Music by Hasse, Porsile, Reutter the Younger & Scalabrini

Click HERE to buy this on

This set is centred around a collection of vocal music made by Prince Anton Ulrich of Saxe-Meinigen during the period he spent in Vienna, where he apparently arrived in 1724. Apparently, since the notes rather ambiguously tell us that the collection, consisting of nearly 300 vocal works, including over 170 chamber cantatas, were works from ‘Vienna’s musical scene composed between 1710 and 1740’. So the assumption would be that Anton Ulrich spent around 20 years of his life in Vienna. More importantly, many of the works in the Meinigen Archive are the sole surviving copy, including the best music in the programme, the two characteristically melodious and elegantly turned cantatas by Hasse. The cantata by Georg Reutter, the Court Composer of Vienna and Kapellmeister of St Stephen’s Cathedral who brought Haydn to Vienna, and the Neapolitan opera composer Giuseppe Porsile are less interesting, the former in particular also suffering from an excruciating anonymous text on the prevailing topic of the cantatas – tormenti d’amore, the torments of love.

In addition to the cantatas, the set includes two trio sonatas by Hasse and two sinfonias once surprisingly attributed to Hasse, but more recently established as the work of the Italian-born Paolo Scalabrini (1713-1803 or 6), the director of the travelling Mingotti opera company, who ended up as maestro di cappella in Copenhagen, where he composed at least eight operas, including several Danish-language works that helped establish native opera. They are pleasant enough routine Galant works in three brief movements but little more and assuredly not worthy of Hasse’s name being attached to them.

The programme itself is therefore not without interest, but sadly the performances rarely rise beyond the level of the efficient and in the case of the cantatas fail to reach that level.  Philipp Mathmann, confusingly described as a countertenor/soprano, is in fact a sopranist pure and simple. While the voice has an admirable purity and wide range, it is unfailingly hooty in its upper range, while also displaying deficient technique in several respects. Little ability to articulate a simple turn is shown, while more complex embellishment or ornamentation is rarely attempted. What truly compromises Mathmann’s performances, however, is his seeming lack of interest in the texts he is singing. None is a literary revelation but the whole object of the chamber cantata was to move the listener, evoking sentiment and emotion through expressive vocal gesture and realization of the words. Ignore that and you may as well be singing a vocalise, which is precisely the impression given here for much of the time.  

The instrumental contribution of Capella Jenensis is rather more enjoyable, though rhythms tend to plod in slower movements. The Hasse trio sonatas, in particular, are well played, with pleasing shaping of melodic lines from the two violinists and – in that in D, op. 2/2 – flautist. The programme, almost exactly the length possible today on a single CD, is extravagantly spread over two discs so it is to be hoped that some price concession is built in.

Brian Robins