Mattheson:12 Suites for Harpsichord

Mattheson:12 Suites for Harpsichord
Composer Johann Mattheson
Artist Alessandro Simonetto harpsichord
Format 2 CD
Cat. number 95588
EAN code 5028421955889
Release May 2018

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About this release

Better known now as a hugely influential theorist and codifier of the principles and performance practice of Baroque music, Johann Mattheson (1681-1764) was not just a scholar but a highly accomplished composer. This album of 12 harpsichord suites offers ample evidence of his creative gifts. The suites were published in two volumes in London in 1714. When Handel heard of this publication, he sent for a copy and in his own words, ‘without hesitation, played it through’: no mean compliment!

Doubtless Handel recognised a kindred spirit. Mattheson’s own style is genial and fluent, tending towards the more audience-pleasing character of Handel’s suites rather than the more rigorous keyboard music of Bach. These suites also have their light-hearted and humorous moments, qualities which characterise many of Telemann’s instrumental works: indeed it’s notable how free Mattheson’s music is from the pedantic and academic character of at least some of his writing. Several suites open with a prelude of showy, toccata-like character before the standard Baroque sequence of dance movements such as vigorous and syncopated gigues and gentle sarabandes.

The last three suites are the grandest of the twelve, opening with spacious Overtures or in the case of No.10 a symphony, rejoicing in both counterpoint and a sense of high ceremony. Within the 12th are embedded adaptations of three pieces by Mattheson’s contemporary Georg Ludwig Böhm: a stylish example of the borrowing that was common practice at the time.

According to Musicweb International, Simonetto’s previous Brilliant Classics album, of suites by Pieter Bustijn (BC94187), is ‘a disc that no lover of Baroque or harpsichord music in general should be without: nearly 80 minutes of enormously appealing, high-octane invention superbly rendered by Alessandro Simonetto on a magnificent reproduction Ruckers instrument, brilliantly captured by the sound engineer - all that at Brilliant's bargain price!’

Johann Mattheson (1681-1764) is mainly remembered as a scholar, author of books on music theory, but he was also a brilliant and prolific composer. A child prodigy he learned several languages and played numerous instruments, like the keyboard, violin, gamba, flute, oboe. He was also a fine singer. He was a prolific composer of both instrumental and vocal music (he wrote several operas).
This double CD presents his 12 Suites for the Harpsichord, highly attractive music full of fluent melodies of a strong vocal quality, instrumental brilliance and warmth. His friend George Frideric Handel was greatly charmed by these suites and is said to have played them immediately upon publication in London in 1714. Alessandro Simonetto is a versatile musician, playing the harpsichord and the piano, as well as being a respected record producer. He already recorded for Brilliant Classics harpsichord music by Pieter Bustijn, which became Recording of the Month on Musicweb.

Track list

Disk 1

  1. Suite I in D Minor: I. Prelude
  2. Suite I in D Minor: II-III. Allemande + Double
  3. Suite I in D Minor: IV-V. Courante + Double
  4. Suite I in D Minor: VI. Sarabande
  5. Suite I in D Minor: VII. Gique
  6. Suite II in A Major: I. Tocatine
  7. Suite II in A Major: II. Allemande
  8. Suite II in A Major: III. Courante
  9. Suite II in A Major: IV. Gique
  10. Suite II in A Major: V. Air
  11. Suite III in D Major: I. Allemande
  12. Suite III in D Major: II. Courante
  13. Suite III in D Major: III-IV. Sarabande + Double
  14. Suite III in D Major: V. Gique
  15. Suite IV in G Minor: I. Allemande
  16. Suite IV in G Minor: II. Courante
  17. Suite IV in G Minor: III. Courante à la Francoise
  18. Suite IV in G Minor: IV. Sarabande
  19. Suite IV in G Minor: V. Gique
  20. Suite IV in G Minor: VI. Menuet
  21. Suite V in C Minor: I. Fantasie
  22. Suite V in C Minor: II. Allemande
  23. Suite V in C Minor: III. Double
  24. Suite V in C Minor: IV. Courante
  25. Suite V in C Minor: V. Air
  26. Suite V in C Minor: VI. Double
  27. Suite V in C Minor: VII. Second Double
  28. Suite V in C Minor: VIII. Menuet
  29. Suite VI in E-Flat Major: I. Fantasie
  30. Suite VI in E-Flat Major: II. Allemande
  31. Suite VI in E-Flat Major: III. Courante
  32. Suite VI in E-Flat Major: IV. Air + Double
  33. Suite VI in E-Flat Major: V. Gique
  34. Suite VI in E-Flat Major: VI. Menuet

Disk 2

  1. Suite VII in B-Flat Major: I. Prelude
  2. Suite VII in B-Flat Major: II. Allemande
  3. Suite VII in B-Flat Major: III. Courante
  4. Suite VII in B-Flat Major: IV. Gique
  5. Suite VII in B-Flat Major: V. Menuet
  6. Suite VIII in D Minor: I-II. Allemande + Double
  7. Suite VIII in D Minor: III-IV. Courante + Double
  8. Suite VIII in D Minor: V. Sarabande
  9. Suite VIII in D Minor: VI. Gique
  10. Suite IX in G Minor: I. Boutade
  11. Suite IX in G Minor: II. Allemande
  12. Suite IX in G Minor: III. Courante I
  13. Suite IX in G Minor: IV. Courante II
  14. Suite IX in G Minor: V. Air
  15. Suite IX in G Minor: VI. Loure
  16. Suite IX in G Minor: VII. Gique
  17. Suite X in E Minor: I. Symphonie
  18. Suite X in E Minor: II. Allemande
  19. Suite X in E Minor: III. Courante
  20. Suite X in E Minor: IV. Sarabande
  21. Suite X in E Minor: V. Gique
  22. Suite XI in C Major: I. Fugue
  23. Suite XI in C Major: II. Ouverture
  24. Suite XI in C Major: III. Allemande
  25. Suite XI in C Major: IV. Courante
  26. Suite XI in C Major: V. Sarabande
  27. Suite XI in C Major: VI. Menuet
  28. Suite XII in F Minor: I. Ouverture
  29. Suite XII in F Minor: II. Allemande
  30. Suite XII in F Minor: III. Courante
  31. Suite XII in F Minor: IV-V-VI-VII. Sarabande +Double I + Double II + Double III
  32. Suite XII in F Minor: VIII. Gique
  33. Suite XII in F Minor: IX. Menuet I
  34. Suite XII in F Minor: X. Menuet II