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Bach : Concerti for 2 harpsichords
Bach & Bernier
Routes du café
September, 13th 2019
Ouverture-Suite in A Major, TWV-55:A1: I. Ouverture
Georg Philip Telemann
Le théâtre musical de Telemann
“…irresistible mastery… Sublime.” – Classique News, France
Masques’ return to Alpha Classics celebrates the music of Georg Philip Telemann, in a collection of the masterful composer’s vibrant Overture-Suites. The prolific Telemann was a devotee of the French style. As he wrote in his autobiography, “I set out to look for the work of Lully, Campra and other good masters, almost exclusively in their style, so that in two years I had no less than two hundred Overtures.” But French music is merely the jumping-off point for works that encompass anything and everything that touched Telemann’s imagination.
The “Overture in A major” reveals Telemann’s sublime side along with the tremendous skill in his craft, while his Overture Suite “Les Nations” takes us on a playful tour of Europe, capturing the diverse characteristics and sounds of its nations. His Polish Concerto shows his sponge-like ability to absorb any music he came across, effortlessly tossing back and forth the distinct flavours of the courts and streets of a once powerful Poland; and finally, the “Burlesque de Quixotte” reflects unparalleled vividness, humour and poignance in its musical depiction of the adventures of Cervantes’ Knight-errant.
“The listeners may be stunned to discover the rich gifts of Telemann, so far from the austerity which sticks to his reputation.” – Musikzen, France
OPUS I, 1695
“The technical perfection and intensity of articulation in the bowed instruments remind us of the great years of Musica Antiqua Köln.” – Diapason
After their disc devoted to Schmelzer, enthusiastically hailed by the critics (‘Editor’s Choice’ Gramophone, ‘Choc’ of Classica), Masques returns to Alpha with a programme combining works by Muffat, Kerll and Pachelbel along with those of a composer who has remained largely unknown and totally forgotten: Romanus Weichlein (1652–1706).
Benedictine monk, prefect and official composer of the Benedictine abbey of Säben, Romanus Weichlein left several collections of sonatas and masses as well as large chaconnes, magnificent works in the tradition of his compatriots Biber, Johann Heinrich Schmelzer, and Georg Muffat. In this new programme, Masques presents both ensemble pieces and others for solo or two harpsichords (the second harpsichord being played by Skip Sempé), always featuring the expressiveness, eloquence and profound interpretation for which it is known.
“… His music gives voice to an expressive power, a ferocious commitment that strikes the listener. He opposes with a determined strength the elaborate styles of his more famous colleagues, with whom he is in dialogue on this exciting CD…After their Schmelzer, Olivier Fortin and his Ensemble Masques hit a new bar.” – Le Soir (Belgium)
Johann Heinrich Schmelzer
“These outstanding performances are by turns beguiling and entertaining.” – Gramophone Magazine
In this recording, their first for Zig-Zag Territoires, Masques’ passion for the Austrian Baroque revels in the vast musical imagination of Johann Heinrich Schmelzer. Like most of his contemporaries (Biber, Walther, Sances), Schmelzer gives music a dual purpose: ‘Music is a pleasure for the saints and for men; it is an act of devotion, but also a symbol of human virtue.’ His collection Sacro-profanus concentus musicus is a masterly illustration of this credo. Masques offers us sonatas for five and six instruments from this collection, alternating with character pieces like Die Fechtschule (an evocation of battle), Die Polnische Sackpfeiffe, and the famous Lamento sopra il morte Ferdinandi III. This varied programme highlights the diversity and the Italian inspiration of Schmelzer’s music.
“A beautiful selection, excellently rendered: Masques has a refined sound… because of that refinement, the ensemble knows how to optimally refresh our mind.” – www.klara.be, Klara’s 10
Sonate a 2, 3, 4 e 5 stramenti, da arco & altri
“…inspired and flawless execution… In an exemplary recording, this magnificent disc will prove to be an indisputable reference for the music of Rosenmuller.” – Le Parnasse Musical
After Mensa Sonora, Masques continues its exploration of the 17th century with this disc of music by Johann Rosenmuller. A composer-on-the-rise in mid-1600s Leipzig, he was set to take on the top job as Cantor — the same post that would bring Bach to Leipzig 70 years later — when he was imprisoned under colourful circumstances. Escaping and fleeing to Italy, Rosenmuller would spend the next 25 years in Venice, a sojourn which inspired the most personal and expressive of his instrumental music, among which are the 12 sonatas included on this recording.
“…as fine as one could wish – beautifully tuned, rich, and expressive – and the recording as well. …This disc is a great addition to the discography.” – Early Music America
Pièces de clavecin en concerts
“It is a Rameau of flesh and blood, overflowing with energy, warm, thoughtful and sensual. The sound is superb. A delight!” – Diapason
This reigning composer of 18th century French opera reserved his one and only publication of chamber music for his five Pièces de clavecin en concerts. Unique not only in Jean-Philippe Rameau’s output, these works turn the conventional idea of chamber music for melodic instrument with keyboard accompaniment on its head. Here the keyboard writing is rich, thorough and the main focus, with violin or flute and viola da gamba in the supporting roles. Made up of witty portraits, character pieces and dances, the names assigned to each of the 16 pieces that make up the concerts provide a window into the illustrious musical and social circles in which Rameau moved.
Bach – Concerti & Sonata
“…one of the most enthusiastic versions of these concertos… Fortin lets the singing of the right hand flourish while the left flies through its arpeggios…” – Le Monde de la Musique
Masques founder and director Olivier Fortin steps into the spotlight in this collection of harpsichord works by J.S. Bach. Applying the instrumental concerto form he learned from Vivaldi and other Italians, Bach laid the groundwork for the now familiar keyboard concerto idiom with his trademark complexity and emotional breadth. Two concertos for keyboard and strings are included in this programme: the Concerto in F minor, BWV 1056, and the muscular Concerto in D minor, BWV 1052 — selected for the Bach concertos edition of Diapason’s “Indispensable Collections” anthology. Also included is the unaccompanied Italian Concerto; and Masques violinist Sophie Gent joins Fortin in the A major Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord Obbligato, BWV 1015, to round out the programme.
Composers : Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber | Georg Muffat | Johann Michael Nicolai | Johann Heinrich Schmelzer | Augustinus Kertzinger
“Masques is an ensemble of great talent.” – Le Monde de la Musique
Mensa Sonora, the sonorous table: the perfect name for this collection of 17th century music by the best of the German-speaking world. Works by Muffat, Schmelzer, Nicolai and Kertzinger are anchored by those of the great violinist and composer H.I.F. Biber,, after whose 1680 publication this album is named. This was the time of the humanistic tradition wherein the joint partaking of music and a meal facilitates the reunion of body and soul, fosters better understanding between guests, develops new partnerships, and expands conversational skills modelled on the subtle dialogue of the instrumental voicing. Harmony in diversity: the very definition of the music itself.