The enterprising French-based early music ensemble Les Traversées Baroques, directed by Étienne Meyer, have already produced a couple of interesting CDs of Polish baroque music - my favourite so far being the very lovely 'Virgo prudentissima' Mielczewski: Virgo Prudentissima. The present disc now brings us a selection of works by the Gdansk composer Kaspar Förster (1616-1673), consisting of six sacred cantatas and three instrumental sonatas.
Förster's music is firmly within the tradition of north European post-Schütz sacred music, further developed by the likes of Tunder, Weckmann, Bruhns and Buxtehude. But, like their works, it also shows distinct Italian influences. The six cantatas here are each in several contrasting sections, richly scored for four-part choir, solo and concerted voices, and instruments. Both vocal and instrumental parts are very demanding in places, and fortunately the excellent musicians of Les Traversées Baroques are well up to the task, with fine performances from the four vocal soloists, two cornetti (Judith Pacquier and William Dongois) and the small group of string and continuo players. The choral sections are sung with one voice to a part.
The extensive vocal solos, duets and concerted passages are extremely well done, with especially fine work by bass Renaud Delaigue in his demanding solo parts (the composer himself was a highly-regarded bass singer). The wide-ranging tessitura of the bass part in 'Jesu dulcis memoria' (track 2) is a good example. Vocal and instrumental works alike are very accomplished, with lively and fruitful interaction in the cantatas between voices and instrumental parts. The three sonatas are enjoyable too, especially the entertaining cornetto duetting in the third sonata (6), officially anonymous but clearly, according to the excellent booklet notes, the work of Förster. The final item, 'Beatus vir', is also a treat, setting off at a lively walking pace very much reminiscent of Monteverdi's familiar piece and working up to an exuberant conclusion.
While Förster's music, as represented here, perhaps lacks the spiritual or emotional power to qualify as 'great music', these are nevertheless beautifully crafted and melodically attractive works. They are undoubtedly further enhanced by these stylish, engaging and highly accomplished performances, which should result in this programme being of considerable interest to enthusiasts of the north European baroque. Recorded sound is excellent, as are the very informative booklet notes.
Unfortunately no texts or translations of the vocal works are provided – a serious omission which will be a real nuisance to most listeners. Why are some recording companies so lazy, and why on earth do they think we don't want to know what the performers are singing about? There's no indication of whether or how the texts might be found on the websites of either record label or ensemble, and they're not in the digital booklet either. The recording is available in CD format from continental European Amazon and other sites.
Confitebor Tibi Domine CD, インポート