This 2CD set is a comprehensive portrait of the works of Johann Gottfried Muthel (1728-1788) and all the pieces here are first recordings. The first disc includes various works for chamber instrumentation, and the programme is made up of the Sonata in F for harpsichord, the Sonata in D for transverse flute and harpsichord, 3 Polonaises in G for transverse flute, violin, cello and harpsichord in F for strings and in B flat for violin and cello and a Duetto for 2 harpsichords. The second disc contains 3 full-scale concertos rather reminiscent of Telemann.
Actually Muthel was one of J.S. Bach's very last pupils who lived and worked in a period of transition when the musical world was bidding farewell to baroque opulence and was about to embark on a more personal and emotional "classical' style. The works selected for this peach of a set all offer strong contrasts reflecting the apex of the composer's fertile imagination. Prime examples of this are: the sudden entrance of two bassoons in the second movement of the D minor concerto; the gallant style of the B flat, punctuated by recitatives; and the virtuosic writing in the E flat work.
The shorter pieces, particularly the 3 Polonaises betray Muthel's penchant for compact works full of harmonic and rhythmic energy. Musica Alta Ripa have been associated with MD&G for more than 15 years and both parties have co-operated splendidly to produce such cyclic projects as Telemann's concertos and chamber music and J.S. Bach's keyboard works and violin sonatas. Their interpretations of the repertoire under review are absolutely sublime and while virtuosity continually occupies the front rank, the ensemble passages are despatched with an almost nonchalant ease. An edifying set in glorious sound and with a gold mine of information in the notes to go with it.
Copyright © 2008 by Gerald Fenech