Splendid Harmony

L'arpa festante

Splendid Harmony
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Splendid Harmony

L'arpa festante

Today Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672) is considered the most important and influential German composer of the early baroque era.

In his 55 years of service as chapel-master to the court of Saxony in Dresden, he taught not only the choirboys in his chapel but music students sent to him from other German courts. His pupils were highly sought-after as (court) chapel-masters, orchestra leaders or church music directors throughout northern Europe.

L'arpa festante (Italian for “The Festive Harp”) is a chamber orchestra with a rich tradition. Founded in Munich in 1983, it has specialised with notable success in the revival of unknown music. This recording, made in the church of Niedereggenen, illustrates the great wealth of music composed by Schütz’s pupils. Under the leadership of Christoph Hesse, the ensemble has recorded suites and sonatas by Clemens Thieme (1631-1688), Johann Wilhelm Furchheim (1635-1682), Johann Vierdanck (1605-1646), Johann Jakob Löwe (1629-1703) and David Pohle (1624-1695) - gems of early German baroque music, all appearing here for the first time on an outstanding recording.

Review

The concept behind this album is very interesting. It’s not an homage to a person as such, it’s a homage to his legacy through his teaching. It features five different composers, all of whom learned from the early Baroque composer Heinrich Schütz (1585–1672). As with many composers of this era whose music has survived, Schütz was German and spent 55 years working as a court composer in Dresden. He is widely considered the most important and influential composer of the period. He taught many students, both his own from Dresden and others from other principalities in the region. The pupils in turn were sought after as court composers in their own right, thanks to their illustrious teacher.

The delightful thing with this particular recording is that L’arpafestante’s musicality makes this very interesting story completely moot. It’s just such a lovely recording. It brings these oft-neglected composers back into performance history and I honestly have no idea why anyone would stop performing these works. They’re beautiful early Baroque pieces that capture your attention very quickly and seem to lack the denseness of the later Baroque style that can often be off-putting for listeners. For any lover of orchestral and chamber music, this recording is going to delight you. Don’t let these composers fall again into obscurity.


Kate Rockstrom is a friend of Readings.

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