Ars Antiqua Austria / Gunar Letzbor

The Mystery of Signor Mouthon: 10 Concerti à 5

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Everyone loves a good mystery, and Ars Antiqua Austria has found one in its Challenge Classics release The Mystery of Signor Mouthon: 10 Concerti à 5. "Mouthon" is the name provided for this set of chamber concertos in the set of manuscript parts found in the library of Kremsmünster Abbey in Upper Austria. This seems close to the name of Charles Mouton, a French composer known for his facility with the lute who lived in the last two-thirds of the 17th century who is known to have composed numerous suites, which may be found in his two published books of lute music. However, Mouton is not known to have written concertos and he seems an unlikely fit for a set as Italianate as these; furthermore, French music was definitely not in favor in the Viennese court in the 17th century and would not make headway there until the beginning of the 18th.

So perhaps "Mouthon" is not merely a misspelling of the name of a famous instrumentalist but perhaps the real name of the composer of these works, a local Viennese who had some contact with Italy. Or perhaps not; nevertheless, music is quite lively, virtuosic, and spirited; not dissimilar in some respects to Antonio Vivaldi, but in many ways conspicuously not like him. The playing of Ars Antiqua Austria is so convincing and well-studied that you'll swear that you've heard this music before, even though you haven't. This is 10 concertos on a single disc, totaling 51 movements altogether, some so short that if you blink you'll miss them, but at least it's a fast-moving disc and a very good listen overall. Even if your taste doesn't run to mysteries, Ars Antiqua Austria's The Mystery of Signor Mouthon: 10 Concerti à 5 is a page-turner.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Concerto à 5 No. 1 in B major (attrib.)
1 2:33
2 1:50
3 0:51
4 2:00
Concerto à 5 No. 2 in F major (attrib.)
5 1:00
6 0:49
7 1:36
8 0:59
9 1:48
Concerto à 5 No. 3 in D major (attrib.)
10 0:46
11 0:36
12 1:55
13 0:51
14 1:44
Concerto à 5 No. 4 in G major (attrib.)
15 0:43
16 0:35
17 0:18
18 0:09
19 2:02
20 0:26
21 1:23
Concerto à 5 No. 5 in C major (attrib.)
22 2:01
23 0:59
24 1:28
25 0:46
26 1:44
Concerto à 5 No. 6 in A minor (attrib.)
27 0:51
28 0:58
29 1:29
30 1:11
31 0:46
Concerto à 5 No. 7 in D minor (attrib.)
32 0:37
33 0:31
34 1:59
35 0:44
36 1:11
Concerto à 5 No. 8 in A major (attrib.)
37 0:35
38 0:33
39 2:11
40 1:15
41 1:48
Concerto à 5 No. 9 in B minor (attrib.)
42 0:52
43 0:50
44 1:21
45 0:50
46 1:33
Concerto à 5 No. 10 in E minor (attrib.)
47 0:38
48 1:07
49 1:31
50 0:44
51 1:13
blue highlight denotes track pick