I love music.

I write about the music I like and have purchased for the benefit of better understanding it and sharing my preferences with others.


#alttext# Former Musica Antiqua Köln violinist and concertmeister Florian Deuter has an ensemble he co-leads called Harmonie Universelle. Among their recordings for strings with continuo is a set of "sonatas" and "concertos" for chamber strings, labeled only by the two composers represented, Georg Philip Telemann and Johann Fasch. These works by Telemann (in the TWV 43-44 range) have a darkness to them, I must admit, not all the typical light and carefree proto-Galante style we might expect. Part of this is the orchestration of using all strings (Telemann seems to have had a fondness for the color of woodwinds), and the direction of the performers. Harmonie Universelle plays openly, each player very independently, which comes across as very confident playing. Listening, it seems the left side of the stereo image is a little heavy, and I'm not sure why. Otherwise, it's a good recording, with just an ideal amount of reverb and a very clear sound. Only one piece by Fasch is presented, center of the disc: a Sonata a 4 in D minor. It holds its own against the Telemann works, perhaps helped by its minor mode. Despite the superlatives used to describe the ensemble on their website, there was less spice and pyrotechnics than we might have expected. This music is well-written, but it lacks profundity across the board. This is not Telemann's best-loved works. But the ensemble's reason for existing seems to be to help uncover unknown works, and in this vein, these are some nicely-wrought pieces. They simply are for connoisseurs rather than generalists. I feel in certain instances the ensemble needs more direction, or more push... the penultimate track is a good example: it's a beautiful piece written in the minor mode with a few surprise harmonic twists that has contained within a lot of gravitas. I think it would only shine more with a faster tempo and more dynamic exaggeration in those suspensions. All players have a nice harmonious sound together, and the harpsichord is especially well-balanced yet sharp and pungent. This recording isn't for everyone... the music has similarity to it that I don't enjoy listening to it from start to end; but take a few of these sonatas in a playlist of sorts with more variety, and I think there's plenty to admire both in this ensembles treatment and likely the novelty of the works themselves.

Bachfest 2011

Red Priest plays Masterworks by J.S. Bach