Texte paru dans: / Appeared in:
Fanfare Magazine: 37:4 (03-04/2014) 
Pour s'abonner / Subscription information
Les abonnés à Fanfare Magazine ont accès aux archives du magazine sur internet.
Subscribers to Fanfare Magazine have access to the archives of the magazine on the net.


Code-barres / Barcode: 3760009293342 (ID341)

Consultez toutes les évaluations recensées pour ce cd ~~~~ Reach all the evaluations located for this CD

Reviewer: Barry Brenesal


Schmelzer’s music does seem to be gaining more attention of late. Much as yet goes unperformed and unrecorded, from his surviving Masses and motets to his several staged works, to his 150+ ballet suites that so pleased the Italianate tastes of his masters, Ferdinand III and Leopold I of the Holy Roman Empire. But interest is picking up, and groups such as Ars Antiqua Austria, the Freiburger BarockConsort, Labyrinto, Armonico Tributo Austria, Il Concerto Barocco, and Caecilia-Concert point to increasing awareness from 16th- and 17th-century Italian music specialists.

This release concentrates on several of Schmelzer’s many sonatas, mostly with a starring role for the violin. (He wrote more than 80 sonatas of which we are aware.) By the mid-17th century individual, self-enclosed movements were appearing in more modern works of this kind, but those weren’t to the conservative tastes of the Austrian court, where the quasi-improvisatory blend of dramatic recitative, slow lament, and quicker dance steps remained very much in fashion. Of the roughly 30 examples of Schmelzer’s sonatas I’ve heard to date, live and on disc, all display a high level of inspiration, with far-ranging chromaticism, sprung rhythms, canonic playfulness, folk-like ostinatos, and a gift for fresh melody that recalls the Italian monodists of the mid-to-late 16th century.

We have yet to apparently reach the point where most albums of Schmelzer’s music can be safely released without included his Polnische Sackpfeiffen. This is a programmatic piece meant to imitate Polish bagpiping, such as might have occurred at a typical dance gathering or celebration—much like modern rural cèilidh. (As marginalia, I’ll mention that I first met the woman who would eventually become my wife at a small weekly Celtic dancing group we regularly attended, and that at least a few of those gatherings featured a local piper.) I find Ensemble Masques too bland in this music, all the rough edges of angular melody and suddenly shifting key centers carefully smoothed out. The playing is certainly good, but unless you like your Baroque humor done up with great reserve, you’re more likely to enjoy the Freiburger BarockConsort (Harmonia Mundi 90287), which is my current favorite, followed closely by Armonico Tributo (CPO 999919).

A more moderated version of the same might be said of the sonata performances on this disc. Each work is a miniature opera without words, an extroverted piece in which a lead violinist (Sophie Gent on this release) displays all their resources. If I were to place Ensemble Masques’ performances along a continuum, it would lie somewhat to the more sedate (or moderate; your preference) side of the Freiburger BarockConsort, which essays more expressiveness, greater tonal variety, and a wider ranger of tempos in these sonatas. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with Olivier Fortin’s approach: far from it. There is a great deal to enjoy from the technique, textural beauty, and sense of ensemble on this disc; and this version of the Lamento is handled tastefully, without too much languishing. My tastes simply incline in a direction that makes more of the inherent theatricality in these early Italianate sonatas that made such a profound impression on urban centers throughout Europe.

So, for the sonatas? Up to you. But the Polnische Sackpfeiffen really isn’t done justice here.

Fermer la fenêtre/Close window


Cliquez l'un ou l'autre bouton pour découvrir bien d'autres critiques de CD
 Click either button for many other reviews