Jörg-Andreas Bötticher / Abendmusiken Basel

In Convertendo

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Led by harpsichordist Jörg-Andreas Bötticher, Abendmusiken Basel is an ensemble of experts in early music performance, and their research into 17th century music led them to record vocal concertos and chamber sonatas from the Düben Collection. Assembled by Swedish court kapellmeister Gustav Düben (ca. 1628-1690), and preserved by the Uppsala University Library, the collection consists of almost 2,000 manuscripts and printed scores dating from the period following the Thirty Years' War; it is a major source of information about Northern European music, particularly in the decades between Heinrich Schütz and Johann Sebastian Bach. Yet listeners may notice that no famous composers are included on this program, and that such names as Düben, Vincenzo Albrici, Nicolaus Adam Strunck, Christoph Bernhard, Johann Martin Redeck, Balthasar Erben, Johann Verdanck, and the ubiquitous Anonymous may not convey the variety of styles or the quality of the music. Most of the selections have modal harmonies and a late Renaissance flavor, and while sacred music before Bach might seem to have required a conservative, even parochial, approach, the expressive text settings, flashy embellishments, and rhythmic freedom of the music point to international innovations, notably from Italy, Germany, and the Baltic region. While In Convertendo may seem to be a modest recording debut for Abendmusiken Basel, the exceptional performances and Coviello's extraordinary audiophile sound make this album a delightful foray into what otherwise might seem dry and cerebral material.

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