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***** A memorable mash-up

ReviewA musical revolution occurred in about 1720, with the "style galant" replacing the more learned and complicated music in vogue before then. K&K Verlagsanstalt, which specializes in audiophile recordings made in historic churches and palaces, has put together a winning project here, with the venerable Quantz Collegium (established in 1936) performing highly appealing music from the Garden Hall of the Rastatt Favorite Palace in Baden-Württemberg. Recorded at two live concerts, we have here four concertos for viola or flute, or both, by Graupner, Telemann and FWH Benda, all written in the accessible, tuneful new style. Mention should be made of Josef-Stefan Kindler's superb photos in the CD notes, which I at first took for paintings in the Rococo style of Tiepolo. They capture both the spirit of the original music and venue and that of the Quantz Collegium and K&K's Historically Informed reconstructions.
"Every current of fashion or of worldview", says Walter Benjamin in The Arcades Project, "derives its force from what is forgotten." Three centuries on, the stripping down of J. S. Bach's erudite polyphonic puzzles can seem, according to one's sensibilities or mood, either a vital breath of fresh air or a savage dumbing down for the kind of mindless 18th century twits personified by Hugh Laurie's Prince George in Blackadder's Third Series. Luckily we can still take pleasure in the simple joys of melody and a direct and honest, if sometimes guileless, clarity. This music is well-crafted, but the strongest movements, those in Telemann's Viola Concerto especially, can seem very much self-aware. It won't be long before the streamlining process leads to a new round of mannerist complexities.
Though one won't find the final degree of authentic style from the Quantz Collegium, including the three soloists, flutist Jochen Baier and violists Agata Zieba and Killian Ziegler, there is much to admire in these performances. The admirably spare technology and truly galant way of playing combined with the elaborate costumes and the rococo porcelain excesses of the venue make for a memorable mash-up.

Dean Frey on several-instruments.blogspot.com and on Arkiv Music
September/October 2018

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