Musica Fiorita, Bach's Weihnachtsoratorium

bachweinachtMusica Fiorita, Weihnachtsoratorium [Bach], Pan Classics (PC 10393), 2017.

Under the direction of Daniela Dolci, Musica Fiorita promotes historically informed performance practices for repertoire from the late Renaissance and Baroque eras. Performing on period instruments, the ensemble’s members seek to recreate the sounds and emotions of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Weihnachtsoratorium (Christmas Oratorio) on a brilliant new two-disc recording.

Ensemble Eolus, Georg Philipp Telemann per Tromba & Corno da Caccia

outheretelemannEnsemble Eolus, Georg Philipp Telemann per Tromba & Corno da Caccia (Outhere Music RIC 397), 2018.

In its first recording, Ensemble Eolus has released a disc celebrating repertoire by Georg Philipp Telemann and his contemporaries, and specifically music that features trumpet and horn. Eolus was the god of the winds, and this ensemble features specialists on historical wind instruments. In the liner notes, the group emphasizes its desire to accurately recreate the sound of Baroque music on historical instruments, which this ensemble specifically seeks to do by not using vent holes or hand stopping. The ensemble explains that they also wish to recreate “all of the original flavour of the music’s regimental and military origins.”

English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble: Music for Windy Instruments

ecse windyThe English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble, Music for Windy Instruments: Sound From the Court of James I, Resonus Classics (RES10225), 2018.  Ensemble website, cick herePurchasing/download information, click here.

Gawain Glenton; soprano & mute cornets, Conor Hastings; soprano, alto, tenor & mute cornets, Andrea Inghisiano; soprano & mute cornets, Nicholas Perry; tenor cornett, Emily White; tenor sackbut, Tom Lees; tenor sackbut, Catherine Motuz; tenor sackbut, Adrian France; tenor & bass sackbut, Silas Wollston; harpsichord & organ. Recorded at A= 465hz.

This recording marks the 25th anniversary of this fine ensemble and is a wonderful marriage of performance and scholarship. All the repertoire on this CD comes from the so-called “Fitzwilliam Wind Manuscript” an important source housed in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge (Mu. MS 734).

Sonitus Clarissima, Music for Court and Cavalry

SONITUSCLARISSIMACDSonitus Clarissima, Music for Court and Cavalry (SR 1001). Recorded October 27-28, 2018. Ensemble website link, click here.

Sonitus Clarissima: Baroque trumpets: Jason Dovel, John foster, Chase Hawkins, Don Johnson, Jenna Veverka, Jared Wallis. Timpani: Josh Smith.

Sonitus Clarissima (Latin for “Brilliant Sounds”) is aptly named. This new ensemble is comprised of a group of wonderful virtuosos. Their inaugural CD has a program of a nice mix of some little-known repertoire with that of a few of the natural trumpet “standards”.

Le Concert Brisé: "Silvestro Ganassi and La Fontegara"

Ganassi dongoisWilliam Dongois and Le Concert Brisé, Silvestro Ganassi and La Fontegara (Ricercare 395), 2017. ;

William Dongois; cornet, mute cornet, recorder, Timea Nagy; recorder, Tiago Simas Freire; recorder, cornet, mute cornet, François Lazarevitch; recorder, flute, Sarah Walder; viola da gamba, Isabelle Brouzes; viola da gamba, Bor Zuljan;lute, percussion, Hadrien Jourdan; harpsichord, Stefan Legee; trombone, Romain Bockler; baritone.

Silvestro Ganassi (1492–1565) holds a special place in music history as having written the first in a long line of treatises on diminution in his La Fontegara. It was published in Venice in 1535. This wonderful recording is an outgrowth of a scholarly research project, lead by William Dongois, for the Haute Ecole de Musique of Geneva. In Ganassi’s own words, “Diminution is nothing except an ornament for the counterpoint.” The principal aim of the treatise was to facilitate the imitation of the human voice on instruments. Ganassi was among a number of renowned piffari in Venice for the Dodge and a member of Scuola Grande of San Rocco.  His years of service for the Doge coincided with the period that Adrian Willaert was maestro di cappella of the Basilica of St. Mark.

Forte e Dolce by Adduci

 Kathryn James Adduci, trumpet, and the Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado, Forte e Dolce (BCOC002) 2013.

Forte e Dolce is the second recording issued by the Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado on their own self-published label and is available digitally for download on Amazon, iTunes, and elsewhere. Given that more than half of the CD’s tracks highlight the trumpet, it might be better thought of as a solo album featuring Baroque trumpeter Kathryn James Adduci (playing a 2006 Egger instrument modeled after a 1748 Ehe III instrument).

Sonate et Canzone by Le Concert Brise

Giovanni Battista Fontana and Giovanni Gabrieli, Sonate et Canzone, Le Concert Brise, Accent Recordings (ACC 24250), 2013.

William Dongois, cornett and direction; Christine Moran, Alice Julien-Laferriere, violin; Stefan Legee, Franck Poitrineau, sackbut; Hadrien Jourdan, harpsichord and organ; Judith Pacquier, cornett; Matthias Spaeter, archlute; Carsten Lohff, harpsichord

Recorded June, 2013 at Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption, Treffort, France; A=466

The offering of Le Concert Brise on this recording is elegant, stunning, and exciting. There are no “grand” works as such, yet there is grandeur in each selection. I recommend that one first read the liner notes by William Dongois which give the listener a wonderful historical/musicological entry into the recording. For example, when describing the Fontana sonatas, he mentions that they “are made up of numerous individual sections, each of which appears to tell a story.” Indeed, and our performers do well in their “story-telling” as they perform these sonatas. Dongois notes that while Fontana was a violinist and had that interest in mind for his sonatas, he also names the cornetto as the principal instrument for many of them. The listener will concur that Dongois’s playing fulfills Fontana’s compositional demands and desires with mastery, charm, purity of sound, and flare. Surely a highlight of this recording is Dongois’s performance of Fonatna’s Sonata VI. He tosses off the numerous technical passages found in it with ease. He always shapes his phrases with grace. Even those which are full of dazzling technical jumps and runs are polished and smooth. There is yet another quality of Dongois’s playing which deserves attention: his warm pure sound, especially in the upper register.

The cornetto playing of Judith Pacquier is deserving of high praise as well. She blends perfectly with Dongois in every way including in some very dazzling technical passages which she handles with ease and grace. The listener will want to note how well they are matched in Fontana’s Sonata XI: note the phrasing, articulation, execution of florid passages which are always performed with warmth and ease. Stefan Legee’ssacbut playing is excellent throughout. One has the opportunity to appreciate it best in Fontana’s Sonata XIII in which he has an extended solo section. He plays with excellent refined sound, intonation, and is always refined in his phrasing.

The disc closes with Le Concert Brise’s arrangement (for their specific instrumentation) of the well-known Canzon Duodecimitoni. It offers the listener, perhaps, a better window into this composition: one hears the individual lines with great clarity, and the entire ensemble performs it splendidly.

This recording by Le Concert Brise is a delight in so many ways. It is an intriguing program and the liner notes are informative and interesting. The performance of Le Concert Brise is both inspired and inspiring. The listener will appreciate both the highest level of virtuosity of its players, as well as an obvious commitment to playing as a unified ensemble. I highly recommend it.

-- Jim Miller

The Gonzaga Band, Venice 1629

gonzaga venice 1629The Gonzaga Band, Venice 1629, Resonus Classics (LC28421), 2018.

Jamie Savan, director, and cornett (treble cornett by John McCann, mute cornett by Serge Delmas, and tenor cornett by Christopher Monk); Helen Roberts, cornett by Paolo Faniciulacci; Faye Newton, soprano, Oliver Webber, violi; Theresa Caudle, violin, and cornett (by Roland Wilson); Steven Devine, organ and harpsichord

Recorded in St. Mary’s College Chapel, New Oscott, Sutton Coldfield, England at A=466 Hz, ¼ comma mean tone temperament

It is well-documented that Venice was a fertile place to be for musicians in the early 17th century. This recording focusses on a single year, 1629, which could arguably be thought of as a time of particularly high activity. It is of note that the plague reached Venice the following year. The highly detailed and very interesting program notes by Jamie Savan state that perhaps one-third of the population of Venice died from the plague in 1630-1631. He notes that there are 50 extant publications from Venice in 1629, 30 from 1630, and none from 1631. For that reason alone, a study and recording of music from 1629 is valuable.