Schmelzer & Co - Music at the Habsburg Court

Format: CD
Label: Challenge Classics
UPC: 0608917233926
Catnr: CC 72339
Release date: 30 October 2009
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1 CD
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Challenge Classics
Catalogue number
CC 72339
Release date
30 October 2009

About the album

The works included on this CD are among the last, highly virtuosic compositions for these ‘old-fashioned’ instruments, and are the icing on the cake for trombonists, cornetto- and dulcian players. In the 18th century, the leading role of these instruments was taken over by more ‘modern’ instruments such as the baroque oboe, the baroque bassoon, not to mention the violin and cello.

Schmelzer & Co. The meteoric rise to power of the House of Habsburg was mired in the battles, purges, and religious persecution surrounding the Counter-Reformation. In this devout, Jesuit, Counter- Reformist court, music had an important role. This can be seen in the importance and size of the Hofkapelle.

Each individual leader of the House of Habsburg contributed to the musical development of the court in some way. For instance Ferdinand II (1578-1637), a very devout leader who was one of the most resolute backers of the anti-Pro-testant Counter-Reformation, helped secure Vienna’s position as one of the centers of music in Europe after his accession to the Imperial throne. His son, Ferdinand III (1608-57), a great patron of music as well as an amateur composer, was active in employing Italian kapellmeisters such as Antonio Bertali (1605-1669). Leopold I (1640-1705), the second son of Ferdinand III, became head of the Austrian monarchy in 1657, and was crowned Holy Roman Emperor the following year. During his reign, musical life in the Viennese court was expanded. He also composed and was responsible for employing among many others, Johann Heinrich Schmelzer (c.1620/23-1680) and Johann Joseph Fux. (1660- 1741). Josef I (1678-1711), the eldest son of Leopold, was an amateur harpsichordist, singer, and composer.

The recruitment of musicians for the court hofkapelle was often undertaken by important contacts in Italy. During the period 1660-1740, primarily Italians filled the significant posts of hofkapellmeister and vice-hofkapellmeister, for instance Massimiliano Neri, Marco Antonio Ferro and others. The only two natives to hold the post were Schmelzer and Fux Interestingly, the positions of court and church organist were more than not occupied by natives, for instance by Georg Muffat 1653-1704) in Salzburg.

While court composers were naturally occupied with composing music for the Devine Service and courtly events, not all music produced was occasional or of minor significance. In Vienna, there arose a strong tradition of composing in the stile antico. Fux in particular considered it his duty to preserve this older style.

Vergeten Duitse en Italiaanse barok
Caecilia-Concert is een veelzijdig internationaal ensemble dat zich specialiseert in het authentiek uitvoeren en onderzoeken van 17e-eeuwse muziek. Op dit album presenteert het ensemble werken van een aantal bijzondere Duitse en Italiaanse componisten uit de barok, die aan het Habsburgse Hof componeerden, onder wie Johann Joseph Fux en Antonio Bertali. Onder de werken op dit album valt een aantal van de laatste, zeer virtuoze composities voor historische instrumenten zoals de cornetto (een trompetachtig instrument met een speelwijze als die van de blokfluit) en de dulciaan (voorloper van de fagot). In de 18e eeuw werd de leidende rol van deze instrumenten overgenomen door modernere instrumenten, zoals de barokhobo, de barokfagot, de viool en de cello.

Caecilia-Concert werd in 2001 opgericht door vier jonge instrumentalisten. Hun doel was muziek te herontdekken en het hedendaagse publiek muziek te brengen die verloren was gegaan, vergeten werd, of simpelweg honderden jaren in de schaduw van andere grote werken had gestaan. Het ensemble staat bekend om zijn onderscheidende, unieke geluid en een scala aan virtuoze en expressieve mogelijkheden die niet vaak geassocieerd worden met deze instrumenten of dit repertoire. Sinds haar oprichting heeft Caecilia-Concert veel geprezen concerten verzorgd op festivals in Frankrijk, Zwitserland, Oostenrijk, Nederland en het Verenigd Koninkrijk. Ook zijn ze vaak te horen op radiostations door heel Europa.

Die eingespielten Werke gehören zu den letzten, ausgesprochen virtuosen Kompositionen, die für diese 'altmodischen' Instrumente komponiert wurden, bevor deren führende Rolle im 18. Jahrhundert von 'moderneren' Instrumenten wie der Barockoboe, dem Barockfagott, und nicht zu vergessen der Geige und dem Cello übernommen wurde. Sie gehören sicherlich zum Besten, was je für Posaunisten, Kornett- und Dulzian-Spieler komponiert wurde. Das niederländische Ensemble Caecilia-Consort legt hiermit seine dritte CD vor und stellt seine Spiellust und Perfektion erneut unter Beweis


Caecilia-Concert is a versatile, international ensemble, specialising in the performance of 17th century music for instruments and voices. The group was formed in 2001 by a group of young instrumentalists who were already working at the forefront of authentic performance practice in Europe. The aim was to rediscover and bring to today’s audiences, music which had been lost, forgotten about, or had simply lain for hundreds of years in the shadows of other great works. Since then, Caecilia-Concert has not only made a name for itself as a virtuosic, flexible, small-scale recital ensemble of the highest international level, but has on occasion, expanded to incorporate other instruments and singers performing rarely heard masterpieces from Italy, Germany, Austria and The Netherlands.
Since a successful debut concert in Kampen, Holland, Caecilia-Concert has enjoyed a succession of well-received concerts in many festivals, including the Utrecht Early Music Festival, Festival of Flanders, Ton Koopman’s Itineraire Baroque Festival in France, and the Brunnenthaler Konzertsommer in Austria. The Caecilia-Concert has performed at such prestigious venues as London’s Purcell Room, and Vredenburg concert hall in Utrecht, and has performed live on BBC Radio 3 as ‘featured artist’ on The Early Music Show, Austrian ORF Konzert Sender, and NPS in Holland. Following the success of their debut CD Treasury of a Saint in 2006 (Challenge Classics CC72161), Caecilia-Concert released Buxtehude & Co in 2007 (Challenge Classics CC72179), also to critical acclaim. The present CD is the second in their series of recordings which pay homage to the influence and inspiration of the great masters of the Early Baroque.

Kathryn Cok works with the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and other important early music ensembles in Europe, and performs as a soloist in many of the world’s most renowned Early Music Festivals and important keyboard museums. Kathryn teaches at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague.
Wouter Verschuren is principal bassoonist of the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra conducted by Ton Koopman. He regularly plays with other renowned period orchestras and plays in numerous international chamber music ensembles. Wouter teaches at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague and at the Utrecht Conservatory.
Adam Woolf studied baroque trombone in London at the Royal Academy of Music, where, 10 years after graduating, he was awarded an honorary Associate-ship for distinguished contribution to the music profession. Adam is principal trombone with Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s orchestras and freelances with chamber music ensembles across Europe.


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