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GRAMOPHONE (08/2021)
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CPO 5551742

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Reviewer: Edward Breen

That Johann Rosenmüller (1619-84) is still something of a rarity in modern performance is particularly surprising considering the quality of music on this second disc devoted to his works by Gregor Meyer and Markus Berger’s Ensemble 1684. Meyer, having already been noted by David Vickers in this magazine for his recordings of Kuhnau with Opella Musica and Camerata Lipsiensis (3/19) has quickly established himself as a stylish interpreter of German early Baroque repertoire.

This new album opens with Rosenmüller’s Magnificat a 18, a compositional tour de force in the Venetian style. It is presented here with gripping attention to detail, particularly in the delicious contrasting instrumental textures, where the silvery violin tone is particularly pleasing. My tastes, however, favour a more demonstrative vocal tone; and while I enjoyed the different personalities of these singers, I would have preferred them to be more prominent in the overall balance, particularly at ‘Deposuit potentes de sede’ (‘He hath put down the mighty from their seat’), where the musical contrasts between the ‘putting down’ and the ‘exalting’ are so inviting. Similarly, I wanted more yearning from the solo voices at ‘Esurientes implevit bonis’ (‘He hath filled the hungry with good things’).

The programme also offers lesser-known and premiere recordings of which I particularly enjoyed the joyful and declamatory Der Name des Herren (‘The Name of the Lord’) and Domine, probasti me (‘O Lord, thou hast searched me’). Meyer has such a completely bewitching rhythmic conviction that these effusive, rich textures suit his ensemble well. I can’t help feeling, however, that the real stars of this disc are the instrumentalists of Ensemble 1684. From the many structural ritornellos to the Sinfonia prima, their superb artistry, particularly the warmth of the sackbuts and cornets, is always to the fore.

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