19 tracks - MP3 192 Kbps - RAR 122 Mb
Johann Krieger may not be one of the more prominent baroque composers but like his two years older brother Johann Philipp, he is at least something more than a footnote in the annals of music. He was born in Nuremberg and served for some years in Bayreuth and Graz before in 1682 settling in Zittau, where he spent the rest of his life. He seems to have been especially revered for his keyboard compositions and Handel approached him so much that he took a copy of Krieger’s Anmuthige Clavier-Übung to England. He is reputed to have produced large quantities of vocal music, most of which apparently have been lost. No operas have been preserved and of his 225 cantatas only thirty remain.
That he was well equipped to write for the human voice is however very clear when one listens to the songs and arias from Neue musicalische Ergätzlichkeit. The texts were written by Zittau born Christian Weise (1642 - 1708). He was a teacher and in 1678 he was appointed principal at the Gymnasium in his hometown. Today this institution bears his name. In 1679 he started writing school comedies to be performed at the Carneval. Such comedies often had musical inserts and after a while Krieger got this task. In 1684 he published a collection of such settings and it is from this collection the songs on this disc have been chosen.
Weise was an excellent poet, something that Gotthold Ephraim half a century after Weise’s death pointed out, finding parallels even with Shakespeare. Fact is that the texts performed here are unusually witty, often humoristic, sometimes satirical. Considering that 325 years have passed since they were written, they are surprisingly modern and they express feelings and situations in a way that makes the reader feel that the late 17th century wasn’t too unlike our present world.
Even the music feels extremely fresh with captivating rhythms and catchy melodies, some of them probably inspired by folk songs of the day. The United Continuo Ensemble, playing on period instruments, have specialized in basso continuo instruments in their cooperation with singers, dancers, actors and other instrumentalists. They work well here and there is true heft when they are joined by the two trumpets in a couple of numbers.
Jan Kobow has emerged as one of the most outstanding German lyric tenor lately. His Die schöne Müllerin some years ago was one of my Recordings of the Year, a disc in the Naxos Complete Schubert Edition was also very successful and Haydn’s Die Schöpfung for the same company, where he was the excellent tenor soloist, almost swept the board with the competition. Quite recently he also appeared as operetta singer in Lehár’s Die blaue Mazur. He also appears on another dozen recordings for CPO. It is a beautiful voice, flexible, elegant, honeyed when needed and, first and foremost, his enunciation is exemplary. Even without the printed texts every syllable can be heard with the utmost clarity. To this must be added that he can express the meaning of the text, colour the tone - in sum: he is a superb interpreter.
The first three titles are sacred arias and they are more or less solemn but with a nice twist every so often. Then follows two groups of secular songs, and they are gorgeous. Ihr Freunde, fragt ihr noch, lively and rhythmic, followed attacca by Kömmt wir wollen ausspazieren, where Kobow indulges in some charming whistling at the end, are just appetizing starters. The real treats are found in the second secular group, where Ich habe mein Liebgen im Garten gesehen is so extremely beautiful and Kobow sings it with marvellous tone. The fast and rhythmic Ich traue nicht is intensely dramatic and has some fearsome runs, while the ironic Die Losung ist Geld erases more than three centuries: money was then and is today the solution! For the concluding group we are back where we started: with some sacred arias, of which Neu Jahrs-Andacht has the singer rejoicing the arrival of Jesus to the New Year, and the Abend-Musick is a festive conclusion, employing the full band with trumpets and timpani.
Soprano Julia von Landsberg appears in two numbers and sings well and the recording is atmospheric. On their own the ensemble play three sonatas by Philipp Friedrich Buchner, who was a generation older than Krieger. It is nice and varied music and ideal resting points between the groups of songs. The main attraction is however Krieger’s secular songs and they are certainly my baroque discovery of the year. This is a disc that shouldn’t be missed by any lover of vocal music from the 17th and 18th centuries.
1. Auff die Kirch-Weihe
3. Vor der Trauung
4. Philipp Friedrich Buchner- Sonata for 2 Violins & Bassoon
5. Lasst uns freuen
6. Ihr Freunde, fragt ihr noch
7. Kömmt wir wollen ausspazieren
8. Lasst mich in der Einsamkeit
9. Sonate für 2 Violins
10. Es ist mir von Natur gegeben
11. Ihr angenehmen Leute
12. Ich habe mein Liebgen im Garten gesehen
13. Ich traue nicht
14. Die Losung ist Geld
15. Sonate für Violin & Bassoon
16. Neu Jahrs-Andacht
17. Auff ein Ernte-Fest
19. Abend Musick Sei willkommen
Jan Kobow, tenor
Julia von Landsberg, soprano
United Continuo Ensemble