Five Centuries of German Music in Transylvania is an Electrecord disc by the Bucharest Virtuosi under the direction of Horia Andreescu. Electrecord is the former state label of Soviet Bloc Romania, although it existed even before the Iron Curtain went up. Electrecord probably should have called Five Centuries of German Music in Transylvania "Four Centuries of German Music in Transylvania," as the Bucharest Virtuosi skips the nineteenth century completely and spend most of its time in the eighteenth. The first seven pieces date from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and draw from keyboard intabulations; these are played by a brass ensemble in arrangements made by Andreescu. The brass group is good, and one assumes that the Bucharest Virtuosi is playing them, but the notes do not say so, and no brass players are identified as part of this group. Although these mostly anonymous pieces come from varying sources, Andreescu's disinterested-sounding arrangements make all of them sound the same.
Devotees of super-obscure literature will hardly be able to resist the excerpt from the Musikalische-turkischer Eulenspiegel of Georg Daniel Speer. However, the matronly, poorly controlled, and frequently sharp singing of soprano Georgeta Stoleriu disserves the piece considerably, and her poor pronunciation of German is not helpful to those who would want to understand what this curiosity is about, as no texts are included for the three pieces of vocal music here, not even the original texts in German. Stoleriu is better in the two songs by J. Sartorius the younger, but these are strophic songs, and the Bucharest Virtuosi does not vary the accompaniment enough to keep it interesting. One of Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf's symphonies supplies the Andantino heard here, which highlights solo oboist Adrian Petrescu. This is pleasant in an easy listening way, and would be decent end of hour filler for an NPR affiliate. However, it is followed by a whole Dittersdorf symphony that, at least in this performance, is indescribably boring.
Five Centuries of German Music in Transylvania is a disc that is trying to be too many things at once: a historical survey, a showcase for star instrumentalists, and a showcase for the Bucharest Virtuosi. As a result, the sum total of Five Centuries of German Music in Transylvania does not do real justice to any of the ideas behind it, but that's the result of trying to maximize one's resources into too limited a product.