O Frohliche Stunden
While best known as a master of the organ and of the polyphonic cantata, the great Buxtehude (1637-1707) also left a number of Spiritual Concerts for soloists and instrumental ensemble.
For this recital, tenor Hans-Jörg Mammel has selected works from this repertoire, including amazing vocal chaconnes that bear the undisputed signature of the great composer the young Bach admired. Mammel, a native of Germany, is an accomplished singer of Early Music and Lieder.
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Han-Joerg Mammel is a fine robust Tenorlied singer, with excellent pitch and dynamics control, but he's not really the raison d'etre for this performance. La Fenice, the instrumental ensemble, totally steals the show. Jean Tubery, the leader of La Fenice, is one of three god-like cornettists in the modern world, the other two being Bruce Dickey and Doron Sherwin of Concerto Palatino. Tubery's cornetto sounds remarkably different from Dickey's and Sherwin's - softer, freer, more vocal, more French if you will, but equally virtuosic. I stand in awe of all three.
Buxtehude's fame as an organist has disposed many listeners to imagine him as a sturdy Protestant, skillful but too earnest for "happy hours".
(O froeliche Stunden = Oh happy hours). The Leider and canzone on this CD, with their lush, almost lascivious instrumental counterpoint, should dispel that impression forever.
Tubery is to the cornetto as Fabio Biondi is to the violin. How's that for an inducement? Now if we could arrange a concert with the two of them facing off across the stage...