J. J. WALTHER
Sonatas nos. 6, 7 8 & 9
J. P. WESTHOFF
Suites nos. 1, 4 & 6
Pavlo Beznosiuk (baroque
Etcetera KTC 1224
It can be a little dispiriting to see the phrase Volume One on a CD of little
known music by relatively unknown composers. Confidence in the project (perhaps
Vol. 2 has already been recorded?) is shown here by the notes about these
two German composers, which give detail about some other of the twelve
Scherzi da violono solo con il basso continuo sonatas (1676) of
Johann Jacob Walther (c.1650-1717), but not of those included in this
Volume! They are in strings of short, usually unrelated, sections and have
extravagant chordal writing, though without scordatura (cp. The more
inspired - to my ears - Biber).
Johann Paul Westhoff (1656-1705) was the first composer of a whole
collection of unaccompanied violin music and these Suites, published in 1696,
are more elaborately chordal and polyphonic than those of Bach, who often
preferred to suggest polyphony. The six suites are laid out in an ascending
key pattern. They are pleasing, but I found those with accompaniment (theorbo,
bass viol, harpsichord and chamber organ) made for richer listening.
There is no evidence that Bach actually knew these collections. The modern
revival of the baroque violin has given a whole large repertoire of quirky,
unpredictable music, 'brilliant, witty and heartfelt by turns' (Peter Holman)
a new lease of life. It is music which gives me consistent pleasure, and
some examples should be in all collections, though this would not be a very
The music is all well played, though just a little short of inspired, I felt.
It is somewhat cautious and rarely takes wing. Recording and documentation
are entirely satisfactory.
Peter Grahame Woolf