After more than two centuries of neglect, the last couple of years have seen the surprise appearance of two discs of music by the Austrian late baroque composer Johann Georg Reutter (1708-1772). I say baroque but, as one of Haydn's teachers, Reutter was moving well into a pre-classical style. Anyway, not only is his music highly attractive, but these two recent discs make for an extremely interesting and worthwhile comparison - the other CD being Arie Et Sinfonie, which I'm also reviewing.
The present disc consists of a very well-judged programme of opera arias, sacred motets and instrumental pieces. The arias - those chosen here being for soprano - all have the additional and unusual feature of an obbligato part for the dulcimer, otherwise referred to as the psalterium or pantaleon. It's a very fine-sounding plucked instrument, most beautifully played here by Margit Übellacker, and the soprano part in each case is sung by the lovely-voiced Monika Mauch. There's also a very distinctive and attractive instrumental movement, 'Pizzicato', in which the main theme, although originally scored for violins, is played on the dulcimer for this recording and to lovely effect.
All the arias are graceful and enjoyable works - but finer still, to my ear, are the five motets recorded here. Three of them are accompanied soprano-alto duets, and Reutter's writing for these two voices is absolutely beautiful. All these motets - the other two being for alto voice - are sincere, expressive works, and are quite beautifully sung here by Monika Mauch and alto Stanislava Jirkù, and equally finely accompanied by the instruments of the early-music ensemble La Gioia Armonica under the stylish, spirited direction of Jürgen Banholzer. If I had to choose any favourites, they might well be the motets 'Justorum animae' (track 2) for soprano and alto; 'Surrexit Pastor bonus' (9) for alto ending in an especially graceful Alleluja section; and 'Deus Pater paraclytus' (10) with, again, most lovely duetting for the two high voices.
I must admit, then, that - after a touch of initial scepticism, perhaps engendered partly by the special pleading of the booklet notes - I've ended up being entirely won over by Reutter and by the excellent case for his music presented through the very fine and sensitive musicianship of this recording. Booklet notes are most interesting, despite the above comment, and all texts and translations are given. The other disc I've mentioned above is very good too, but if I had to choose it would be this present one, 'Portus felicitatis' (haven of happiness), the words of its title being taken from the text of one of those lovely, pre-Haydn-and-Mozart motets. In any case, there's plenty of happiness in store for anyone listening to one or both of these recordings.
Hier I could find every single moment of virtuosity and perfection, thanks the voices of Stanislava Jirku and Monika Mauch! Hopefuly they can sing together ones more .La Gioia Armonica sounds splendid playing Johann George Reutter.