After having listened to a broadcast last week of Jordi Savall performing music of the French Baroque (see my last post), I went yesterday afternoon to Holy Trinity Church on Central Park West to hear the Juilliard415, the school's period instrument ensemble, perform masterpieces of the German Baroque in a program that featured works by Johann Rosenmüller, Dieterich Buxtehude, Georg Philipp Telemann, Johann Friedrich Fasch, and Johann Gottlieb Janitsch.
The full program was as follows:
- Rosenmüller - Sonata No. 10 in F major from Sonate (1682) here arranged for two violins, two violas, cello and harpsichord
- Buxtehude - Sonata in D minor for violin, viola da gamba, and continuo, Op. 1, No. 6 (pub. 1694)
- Telemann - Trio Sonata in G minor, TWV 43:g5 from Essercizii musicale (1739-1740)
- Fasch - Sonata in F major for violin, oboe, bassoon and continuo, FaWV N: F4 (c. 1750)
- Telemann - "Paris" Quartet No. 6 in E minor, TWV43:e4 from Nouveaux quatuors en six suites (1738)
- Janitsch - two movements (largo e cantabile and allegro non troppo) from Sonata a Tre in F sharp minor (n.d.)
- Telemann - Sonata Prima in A major, TWV 43:A1 from Sei Quadri (1730)
The program was an interesting mix of better known and less famous composers. Fasch, much of whose music has been lost, and Janitsch, much of whose music remains unpublished, have both fallen into near total obscurity. If Rosenmüller is remembered at all, it is for all the wrong reasons. A well regarded organist on an upwardly mobile ecclesiastical career path, he was forced to flee Leipzig in 1655 after having been accused of sexual impropriety. In exile in Venice he found a position at St. Mark's and came under the influence of Italian music whose style he then incorporated into his own works.
In contrast to the three composers mentioned above, Dieterich Buxtehude exerted enormous influence on the course of the German Baroque. While organist at St. Mary's Church in Lübeck, he composed a huge number of ecclesiastical works for that instrument, some of which are still used in church services today. During his lifetime, however, he was most famous for the secular music he composed for the Abendmusik concerts that followed church services on five Sundays each year. It's thought that J.S. Bach, who famously walked a full 250 miles in order to meet his idol, may have attended one of these concerts. Most important to Bach was Buxtehude's development of the fugue, a device that became central to Bach's own oeuvre. On the other hand, the D minor sonata performed at this recital was not something one would have expected of a composer of religious music. Described admiringly in the program notes as being "adventurous in its convergence of styles and influences, with juxtapositions of music at once restrained and unbridled, sophisticated and crude: the famed stylus phantasticus," the sonata was amazingly entertaining.
After Bach and Handel, the most famous and influential German Baroque composer was certainly Telemann. Incredibly prolific, in part due to the need to pay off his wife's gambling debts, a close enough friend to Bach to serve as godfather to Carl Philipp Emanuel, he held major music positions in both Frankfurt and Hamburg. But Telemann's influence extended far beyond Germany. His "Paris Quartets," two of which were performed at this recital, had so great an impact on French musicians they can truly be said to have changed the course of French Baroque music. As Telemann himself put it: "they won the attention of the ears of the court and the town, and procured for me in a very little time an almost universal renown and increased esteem."