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Heinichen: Galant Court Music /Il Fondamento Dombrecht

Paul Dombrecht , Il Fondamento , Johann David Heinichen Audio CD

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CD Composer: Heinichen

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two Years Older than Bach ... 28 Oct 2011
By Giordano Bruno - Published on
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
... and a good deal more 'successful' in his career as a musician was Johann David Heinichen! Like JS Bach, Heinichen came from a family of musicians; his father, a cantor and pastor, had studied at the Thomasschule in Leipzig. Johan David followed his footsteps there, studying with the celebrated harpsichordist Johann Kuhnau. But the young Heinichen also studied law in Leipzig and returned to his home city of Weissenfels, where he practiced law until 1709. Other baroque musicians, including Kuhnau and Telemann, had also studied and practiced law before committing themselves to music. In 1709, Heinichen accepted the invitation of patrons in Leipzig to return to that city both to conduct the Collegium Musicum and to compose and stage operas. At the same time, he became court composer at Naumburg, a city now more closely associated with Nietszche than with music. Very soon, in 1710, Heinichen gave up his berth in Leipzig to travel to Venice. In 1712, he was in Rome, and then back in Venice his music came to the attention of Crown Prince Frederic August of Saxony, who engaged him as kapellmeister at the Court of Dresden, where he was to stay until his early death in 1729. But in 1717, briefly, he was a colleague of Bach's at the court of Leopold, Prince of Anhalt-Köthen. Sadly, Heinichen's health failed him for most of his years in Dresden, and many of his duties as Kapellmeister were performed by his assistant, Jan Dismas Zelenka. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment during those years was his second expanded edition of his 1710 treatise on 'basso continuo', a work of huge influence and profundity. As a composer and a theorist, Heinichen explicitly advocated a style than would combine German, French, and Italian elements; the influence of his time in Italy undoubtedly explains his development toward a precocious classical style, galant and lively, with quickly varying instrumental textures and timbres. Had you visited the musical courts of Europe in the 1720s, you would certainly have heard more about, and of, Heinichen than Bach.

The two Ouverture/Suites and four concertos recorded here are indeed 'galant' music composed for festive court occasions. They're not as densely structured and contrapuntal as Bach's orchestral suites from the Anhalt-Köthen years, but they're artfully concise and entertaining. The bass parts -- the continuo and obbligato basses both -- are especially well crafted. It was a characteristic of Heinichen's orchestra that the archlute was always prominent and virtuosic, so listen for it! You'll hear the influence of Vivaldi, whom Heinichen met in Italy, but that's nothing rare; Vivaldi was more influential in the generation of Heinichen and Bach than most people have realized.

The most vivacious of these works, to my ears, is the first selection, the Concerto a 7 inG Major for 2 oboes, 2 violins, 2 violas, and continuo. The oboe was at the pinnacle of its development and of its importance as a leading voice in the chamber orchestra in the lifetime of Heinichen. Paul Dombrecht, the conductor of Il Fondamento, is also a virtuoso baroque oboist, and the oboe playing on this disk amply demonstrates why composers like Bach, Heinichen, and Zelenka assigned so much importance to the instrument. Dombrecht also plays the mellower oboe d'amore in the Concerto in A Major, composed for that rare instrument. The Ouverture in G Major, Siebel 205, is a suite of six movements composed for two oboes, bassoon, strings, and continuo; this performance features the very able bassoon-playing of Alain Deryckere. No doubt the fact that Paul Dombrecht is an oboist partially explains the selections recorded here; four of the six pieces are showcases for the double reeds, compositions in which all fiddles play 'second fiddle'.
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