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Johann Gottfried Muthel: Concertos and Chamber Music
Johann Gottfried Muthel (1728-1788) was a German composer and a virtuoso of the keyboards. He along with C.P.E. Bach became lifelong friends at the court of Frederick II of Prussia at Potsdam and are mostly known for the Strum and Drang style of composition. This in not surprising as both knew each other through J.S. Bach, in 1750 Muthel became J.S. Bach's last pupil, beginning just months before Bach's death. Muthel began to notate many of the blind composer's works and was present when J.S. Bach died and carried on Bach's affairs for a few weeks till his studies were taken over by Johann Christoph Altnickol who was also studying under the master J.S. Bach. J.S. Bach was at the height of his creativity, but musical composition was undergoing a huge transition that was welcoming the pre-classical style. Many composer's wanted to break from what was the past and embark on a newer more radical style that featured, most importantly, the scholarly counterpoint style. A style that was natural and that would speak to the heart, governed by melody, pleasant, agreeable, and could be played by amateurs as well as the virtuoso. This was a time when more and more women were integrating to form part of the community of performers.
What we have here are some of the concertos and chamber music that Muthel wrote, when the frame of mind was right. It seems that Muthel, unlike others, needed to have a certain quality of tranquility to write. Muthel's works vary and are not on the same higher order as J.S. Bach or Georg Philipp Telemann, but they remain pleasant to listen to and give the listener a needed insight to this period of classical music. Muthel's works on this 2-CD set feature the harpsichord as the primary instrument. Accompanying on the 3 polonaises are flute, violin, and cello, also a flute sonata are on the first CD. The polonaise was most popularized by Chopin. The second CD is where the concerto works are. These are more encompassing and include harpsichord, 2 bassoons 2 violins, viola, cello and the violone. The violone is an interesting instrument as it could be fretted, could consist of 6, 5, 4 or 3 strings, or could be played with a bow. It was a large, but not just used as a contrabass instrument, it depended on the "type" of tuning. Some of the violone instruments were no bigger than a cello, while others were larger than today's modern double bass. My favorite musical pieces are on the second CD, this is where you can hear the interplay as the music's melody passes between the players. These are more mature pieces of music and you can get a better tonal picture of what the composer is trying to say.
CD - 1: total time 60:34
1. Polonaise in G major 3:24
2. Duet in C major 19:11 features 2 harpsichords
3. Sonata in D major 16:01 flute and harpsichord
4. Polonaise in F major 3:08
5. Polonaise in B-flat major 3:03
6. Sonata in F major 15:26
CD - 2: total time 74:53
1. Concerto in B-flat major for harpsichord and strings 25:15
2. Concerto in E-flat major for 2 bassoons and strings 25:00
3. Concerto in D minor for harpsichord, 2 bassoons and strings 24:15
This is a well recorded musical set, SPARS Code: DDD of 2 CD's, with full dynamic range and with natural acoustics from specially chosen concert halls in Europe. This is an audiophile label and it refrains from any sort of sound modification, manipulation with reverberation, sound filters, or limiters. What you hear is what you get, and what you hear is a truly magnanimous, genuine reproduction with precise depth graduation, with original dynamics, and true tonal colors. Playing this CD on a Blu-ray system brings out each instrument in it's own rightful spatial dimension.
The musical group playing on these 2 CD's are the Musica Alta Ripa:
Karl Kaiser, flute
Rhonda Patrick, bassoon 1
Frances Eustace, bassoon 2
Anne Rohrig, violin 1
Ursula Bundies, violin 2
Klaus Bundies, viola
Guido Larisch, violoncello
Love Persson, violone
Gregor Hollmann, harpsichord
Bernward Lohr, harpsichord
This is a wonderful, pleasant music as the instrumentation plays well together with counterpoint melodies playing off of those started by another, and very well proportioned. You can hear a bit of J.S. Bach haunting some of the melody, but it is truly original Muthel. I would recommend this CD set for those who like the chamber music style.