Schmelzer in Kromeriz?
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The mid-17th century violin virtuoso Johann Heinrich played an important part in the development of the German violin sonata, later taken to even greater heights by his better known pupil, H I F Biber. Not many of his sonatas were published and it is assumed that many have been lost.The works on this CD come from the huge manuscript collection at Kromeriz, Moravia, belonging to the Bishop of Olomouc (1664-1695), in which almost all the works are anonymous. However, through stylistic analysis, some of the works have been identified as probably by Schmelzer and this disc presents several of these. There are also sonatas attributed to Schmelzer's contemporaries, Doebel, Kretzinger and Muffat.John Holloway is a recognised specialist performer of the music of 17th century Austria, with critically acclaimed recordings of Biber's famous Rosary Sonatas (Virgin) and other 17th century Germanic works (including another disc of Schmelzer and others on ECM). He performs on period violin (that is a violin set up in 17th century style, with gut rather than metal strings and different internal construction from the modernised old violins used by Menuhin, Perlman and the like, and using a lighter, shorter bow). He is accompanied by harpsichord, lute and viola da gamba.His fans will find him true to his style on this disc. He is not the flashiest of early music performers, but his technical command is such that he is never uninteresting. He is able to draw a multitude of colours from his instrument (not possible on a modernised violin, owing to its more homogenised tone) and he has a fine sense of rhythm and pacing. Occasionally, there are touches of hunour, when the music demands it - i.e the Balletto attributed to Schmelzer used as the disc's title."