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CD Review

Music at the Hapsburg Court

  • Johann Heinrich Schmelzer:
  • Sonata Natalitia a 3 Chori
  • Sonata II à 8, due chori
  • Sonata a 4, "La Carolietta"
  • Sonata I à 8
  • Sonata à 3
  • Sonata IV à 6
  • Sonata à 5
  • Sonata à 3
  • Sonata à 3 Violini
  • Johann Joseph Fux:
  • Serenada à 8
  • Rondeau à 7
  • Sonata à quattro
Concentus Musicus Wien/Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Teldec Das Alte Werk 2564-69852-4 2CDs 97m ADD Rec in 1970
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Although rather meagrely filled, these two discs are surely a testament to the greatness of the young and energetic Nikolaus Harnoncourt in music that is not always associated with his name. That does not matter for I doubt if the triumphant pomp and circumstance of the Schmelzer and Fux compositions can sound so dazzling even today, almost 40 years after these recordings were first made.

Schmelzer's work is the more overtly demonstrative of the two composers with several innovative parts for violins in his expansive sonatas. The Sonata II à 8 is particularly effective with many fine touches as is the Sonata à 3 Violini which concludes the first disc. Fux's contribution to the music here is shorter and is made up of chiefly one work, the Serenada à 8, a composition in the grand manner which again brings out the best in the CMW under the tireless Harnoncourt.

The Teldec recording is excellent with a beautiful shine on the violins and other wind instruments belying its 1970 date. The booklet, as with all these reissues from Das Alte Werke, is sumptuously presented with some fine reproductions of scores in the inside pages. Harnoncourt fans will want to snap up such an important recording in the conductor's discography.

Copyright © 2008, Gerald Fenech