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Modus Phantasticus: Viol Music from 18th Century Germany

Modus Phantasticus: Viol Music from 18th Century Germany-Chamber Ensemble-Baroque
ID: SIGCD041 (EAN: 635212004128)  | 1 CD | DDD
Publi: 2003
Signum Records
Chamber Ensemble
BÖHM, Georg | BACH, Johann Sebastian | BAUDRINGER, Davidt Adam | FUNCK, David | FUX, Johann Joseph | HESSE, Ernst Christian | KÜHNEL, Augusto | PACHELBEL, Johann | SCHENCK, Johannes | TELEMANN, Georg Philipp
HEINRICH, Susanne (bass viol / ) | ICHISE, Reiko (bass viol) | MORIKAWA, Asako (bass viol) | NG, Kah-Ming (harpsichord / ) | PELL, Susanna | SAYCE, Lynda (theorbo / lute / )
Charivari Agréable
Pour plus amples dtails:
BACH, Johann Sebastian (1685-1750) 
1. Erbarm dich mein, O Herre Gott, BWV 7214:10
2. In Dir ist Freude, BWV 6152:16
SCHUTZ, Heinrich (1585-1672) 
3. Feritevi, ferite, SWV 9,2:22
FUNCK, David (1648-?1699 
Suite in D major from Stricturae Viola di Gambicae (1677) 
4. Adagio1:25
5. (Allegro)0:58
6. Sarabande & Double3:58
7. Gigue1:07
BAUDRINGER, Davidt Adam (fl. late 17th c.) 
8. Sonata in B flat major for viola da gamba & b.c.;6:53
PACHELBEL, Johann (1653-1706) 
9. Ciaccona in F minor6:04
TELEMANN, Georg Philipp (1681-1767) 
Concerto for four violins without b.c., TWV 40:204  
10. Grave1:19
11. Allegro2:04
12. Adagio1:12
13. Spitituoso2:36
HESSE, Ernst Christian (1676-1762) 
14. Paÿsan en Rondeau4:17
KÜHNEL, Augusto (1645-c. 1700) 
15. Sonata à 2 in E minor8:41
BÖHM, Georg (1661-1733) 
16. Chaconne in G major3:11
BACH, Johann Sebastian (1685-1750) 
17. Das alte Jahr vergangen ist, BWV 6142:20
SCHENCK, Johannes (1660-c. 1720) 
18. Sonata op. 2/4 in A minor9:27
FUX, Johann Joseph (1660-1741) 
19. Ciaconna in G major6:12
BACH, Johann Sebastian (1685-1750) 
20. Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier, BWV 634/7063:17


"The playing in all of the Bach transcriptions (there are four on the disc) is stunning - smooth, calm, and sonorous, yet with a fall awareness of individual line and harmonic structure.

Caroline Ritchie, The Consort

"It's amazing ... This new disc is a real winner. I absolutely loved it. It's 75 minutes of glorious music, and when it finished, I listened to the whole thing all over again. I can't recommend it anymore than that"

Mark Shepherd - 3MBS FM, Melbourne

... the intuitions of Charivari Agréable are always captivating for the listener .... a perfectly accomplished recording ... one in which the images that fire our imagination are underpinned everywhere by unflagging expertise.

Roger Tellart, Goldberg Magazine

"... Erbarm dich mein is particularly beautiful. Charivari Agréable's playing is of the highest order"

Daily Telegraph:
"This is an exceptionally beautiful compilation, with striking atmosphere and perfectly balanced performance. Some pieces are literally difficult to tear oneself away from, a delicious Paysanen Rondeau in particular. I can't recommend it highly enough."
Musyca 21 (Polish Journal)

Goldberg, vol. 26, February 2004:
Unlike England or France, Germany never established a solo viol tradition, relying rather on the consort style that flourished on the other side of the Rhine, a style dominated by a delight in evocations of death, the hereafter and the supernatural.

This Stylus or Modus Phantasticus was to last all the way down to the eighteenth century (or nearly), forming a full-blown repertoire based on transcriptions of vocal or instrumental pieces for a consort of viols (with the Renaissance madrigal serving as its archetype).

In broaching this sphere of the strange, the intuitions of Charivari Agréable are always captivating for the listener. Among others, Susanne Heinrich brings her versatile talents into play, ranging from the pardessus de viole to the French 7-string bass viol. From the outset she takes centre stage (as regards affects and atmosphere) in the recording, with its arrangement of the Bach chorale Erbarm dich mein, O Herre Gott BWV 721, conjuring up a striking landscape of the soul, a religious, funereal vision that plunges us into the mystery of sound and the secret of things. And her partners are on a par with her, particularly Kah-Ming Ng, an outstanding strategist on the harpsichord and the organ (superb reading of the chaconnes by Pachelbel and Böhm), and a sagacious continuo player in several pieces. Enough said, this journey into the Fantastic, far from being a chimera, is a perfectly accomplished recording in terms of its results, one in which the images that fire our imagination are underpinned everywhere by unflagging expertise. Roger Tellart

Daily Telegraph, 6th December 2003:
At the very beginning of the early instrument revival, before the First World War, it was not uncommon for viols to be used in contexts that would now seem ludicrously inappropriate ­ accompanying a harpsichord in a Mozart piano concerto, for example. But though that was undoubtedly going too far, this remarkably interesting and attractive selection of 17th- and 18th-century pieces, not all of which were originally intended for viols, proves that the instrument has real expressive powers and can make an excellent showing in music far removed from the traditional consort repertoire.

These expressive qualities are heard to best advantage in arrangements of four Bach chorale preludes, of which Erbarm dich mein is particularly beautiful, but even the transcription of Telemann's four-violin concerto for viols da gamba comes over as perfectly convincing, once the listener's initial surprise wears off. Charivari Agréable's playing is of the highest order both in these ensemble pieces and in the solos, including a charming rustic rondo by Ernst Christian Hesse, which complete this delightful programme. Elizabeth Roche

The Consort, vol. lx (Summer 2004):
As a group, Charivari Agréable have managed to successfully avoid being a viol consort; they are more a viol-and-continuo-based group, whose numbers can expand from the basic core of Susanne Heinrich, Kah-Ming Ng and Lynda Sace to include extra viols, violins, wind instruments and singers, and thus have the scope for a widely varied repertoire. Their programmes, both live and on disc, reflect this; they are generally not so much themed as story-based often directed towards a particular occasion, historical or present-day. In many ways, this makes sense, particularly in the medium of consort music, an abstract and introverted art-form that was not designed for public performance. The groupąs recordings often steer towards music slightly out of the normal viol repertoire, and this disc is no exception. It is a foray into the German baroque, exploring the viol compositions that exist, and also arranging vocal and instrumental music to fit the combination of viols and continue. Arrangements form an important part of Charivari Agreableąs repertoire; previous discs include instrumental arrangements of music from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, and orchestral transcriptions of the viol suites of J.B.A. Forqueray. However one views such a practice from a historical point of view, the group aims to bring the music to life using a rhetorically effective combination of instruments, reminding us that what musicians do is ultimately an art of performance, not of documentation.

Central to the ideology of the disc is the use of stylus phantasticus, a rhapsodic style of viol playing associated more with the violin. The sleeve-notes explain the position of the viol as a church instrument, representing mortality and the supernatural. This became so important in the lamento tradition, and for composers such as Schutz, that its sound often came to dominate the texture. It is this textural association that is obviously intended in the opening and closing tracks, both arrangements from J. S. Bach's Orgel-buchlein. The calm harmonic flow and blend of the independent lines make this perfect viol music, and give an effect that is beautifully Lutheran and otherworldly. The playing in all of the Bach transcriptions (there are four on the disc) is stunning - smooth, calm, and sonorous, yet with a fall awareness of individual line and harmonic structure. Opening and closing with these transcriptions puts the disc into the church mode; this is interrupted in the second track, also an Orgel-buchlein transcription, but of the more upbeat In dir ist Freude, BWV 615. This is presumably our first example of stylus phantasticus playing, and it is given a wonderfully spirited and exuberant performance.

The next track is by Schutz; not from his viol music, however, but an arrangement of the madrigal Feritevi, ferite, SWV 9. We now move to both the lesser known composers, and to original German viol writing. The one surviving work of the apparently alcoholic and criminal virtuoso violist David Funck, the Stricturae Viola di Gambicae (1677), is written for four bass viols and makes great use of this distinctive sonority, employing a wide variety of ranges between the four instruments, and a skilled use of counterpoint. The other German style of viol playing was that of the Dutch-German virtuoso school, which is represented here by Davidt Adam Baudringerąs Sonata in B-flat major for solo viol and continuo. The remaining viol pieces are both transcriptions. Kah-Ming Ng's solo contribution takes the form of two chaconnes, Pachelbeląs Ciaccona in F minor, with its expressive descending ground bass, and Georg Boehmąs Chaconne in G major, on the familiar major chaconne bass. The playing is eloquent and crisp in both cases, and the sound of the solo harpsichord provides a refreshing interlude from the thick viol-and-continuo texture of much of the disc. The Bohm Chaconne is given a spirited and humorous performance, while the building tension and virtuosity of the Pachelbel is almost Sturm und Drang in its expressiveness.

The viol playing throughout the disc is alternately deeply sonorous and brightly articulate and the continue, although sensitive, has the depth required by this music. It is interesting that some of the most effective performances - of the Schutz madrigal and the Bach transcriptions, for example, - are not of original viol music, and that it is in the real viol music that the texture can become a little too dark and the musical effect less inspiring. Perhaps this is due, ultimately, to the prowess of Bach and Schutz over such composers as Kuhnel and Schenk, and to the fact that their music is ultimately more inspiring to play. Overall, however, this is a disc of ravishing sounds and expressive playing, and some beautiful pieces of music.
Caroline Ritchie


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