Monday, September 28, 2015

Music on court of Leopold I


   Before Vienna became great musical center of international importance, it was one of many European capitals with more or less active musical life. Musical traditions of other major centers of the continent were deeper, more fruitful and long lasted. The sovereign who changed Austrian capital into biggest center of European music in 18th century was Leopold I (1640-1705), Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary and Croatia, King of Bohemia. He was one of greatest emperors in Europe. He was well educated in free arts, fluent in many languages, especially interested in music. He was prolific composer of Italian and German oratorios, masses and motets as well as instrumental music. Personal experience with music and professional skills helped him create musical center on his court, which consequence was development of progressive music in Vienna in next centuries.
   In series Musik in alten Städten und Residenzen by Electrola-EMI, volume Wien — Am Hofe Leopolds I published in 1964 was strong program that help to understand musical experience of Viennese composers in time of Leopold I. It is known how strong position of composers from abroad was, mainly French and Italian in 17th century Europe. In Vienna strongest influences had French and Italian composers so natural presence of Georg Muffat, Giovanni Legranzi in Vienna, as well as music by Frescobaldi and Corelli and many others. In late 17th and early 18th century this process was developing into creating generations of Viennese composers, and in classical period most famous generation of composers we know as First Viennese School.

Wien — Am Hofe Leopolds I (1964)

   Some elements of cyclic forms of late baroque instrumental music can be traced as antecedent to classical sonata form. The assumption to show this as continuous process is present in the program of the album. From symphonias from Concentus musico instrumentalis 1701 by Johann Joseph Fux (1660-1741) symbolically begins the process of constructing new form for 18th century music. Two of these works opening both sides of the album: Sinfonia II with elements of suite and Sinfonia VII where dominant are elements of sonata a tre. Various cyclic forms of the period show most famous Vienese composers of the Leopoldus I era Giovanni Legrenzi (1626-1690), Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber (1644-1704), Johann Heinrich Schmelzer (1623-1680). Musical picture of the time is completed by Regina coeli a 5 was composed in 1655 when he was 15 years old.
   Album of Music on court of Leopold I was recorded by “Concentus Musicus Wien” Ensemble für Alte Music working under direction of Nikolaus Harnoncourt who was playing here on tenor and bass viola da gamba. Alto part in Regina coeli by Leopoldus I was sung by mezzosoprano Jeanne Deroubaix. This collection of stylish and competent performances is part of great series presenting centers of 17th and 18th European music. In early 1960’s this was a new perspective. In less than decade it turned out to be opening of new receptivity on early music and Harnoncourt’s Concentus Musicus Wien became one of most appreciated bands. Four stars for all these qualities looks decently.

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