You may well find yourself drawn to this CD by its cover; even
though there aren’t many shops any more where you can
flip through a browser and be seduced by a cover, most online
suppliers offer a small cover shot and this, depicting musicians
and guests at a grand eighteenth-century wedding may well catch
the eye. You may also, not unreasonably, have high expectations
of anything on the Accent label. Do the contents match the cover
- ut pictura musica, do the music and performances match
the picture, to quote the motto of another early music record
label? I’m afraid that there have to be reservations to
my generally affirmative response.
I don’t recall coming across a whole CD devoted to the
music of Reutter before. The odd works of his that I may have
heard on a compilation album have left so little impression
on me that I can’t remember any of them. I was pleased,
then, to be making a discovery from the generation of German
and Austrian composers which saw the baroque give way to the
galant and the classical.
Reutter was deputy Kapellmeister to Maria Theresa and was elevated
to the nobility for his services in 1740. There’s a good
range of music here: orchestral sinfonias, a trumpet concerto
and, interspersed among these, arias from his operas.
I can’t say that we’ve been missing out on a musical
genius; the music here is attractive, so that I’d rate
his contribution alongside that of his predecessor as court
musician, Johann Joseph Fux. That means that it’s well
worth hearing but ultimately a little too merely attractive
to be memorable. If you want to try a sample, from Naxos Music
Library perhaps, if you have access to that worthwhile institution,
the aria Soletto al mio caro (track 7) will give you
a fair idea of its quality.
That track will also give you a good indication of the quality
of the performances, including those of Olivia Vermeulen. It’s
about her contribution that my reservations chiefly arise. She
has a very pleasant voice but she is inclined to sound a little
squally at times. This is not a serious problem but I did find
that it prevented me from fully appreciating the vocal items.
My wife says that I’m being over-critical; you may well
find yourself agreeing with her in emphasising the general beauty
of the singing.
If you try to make sense of the words of this aria, you won’t
find the ‘English’ text in the booklet much help:
‘Lonely, to my dear one/I serve flattery and keep silence’
doesn’t make much sense. The words really mean, ‘I
serve and love in silence only my dearly beloved’. I’m
afraid that’s pretty much the level of the translations
- if your Italian isn’t quite up to it, you will find
the German translation much more idiomatic than the ‘English’.
Soletto al mio caro is followed by the three movements
of an attractive trumpet concerto - actually it’s more
a concerto with, rather than for, trumpet, since the solo instrument
is silent throughout the central andante. This work,
as the notes point out, is new to us, not to be confused with
the Second Trumpet Concerto, also in D, which has already been
recorded on Brilliant Classics 93270.
Nuovo Aspetto appears to derive its name from one of Reutter’s
arias here, so it’s not surprising if they have a strong
rapport with his music. By the standards of early music consorts
the group is quite large: four first violins are credited, three
seconds, two violas, cello, violone, trumpet, psalter, harp,
lute/guitar, trumpet and a plethora of keyboard players: three,
though not all appearing at once. In reality, however, they
never overwhelm the music; if anything they slightly underwhelm
it with affection. There are times when I could have liked a
little more power to the performers’ collective elbows.
I particularly liked the prominent use of the psaltery (dulcimer),
harp, lute and guitar, alone or in combination, in accompanying
The recording, made in association with WDR Cologne, is good,
capturing well the intimate nature of the music and the performances.
The notes in the booklet are helpful and, fortunately, translated
into much better English than the sung texts; those text translations
really should be completely rewritten by someone who understands
With small reservations, then, this recording lives up to the
promise of its eye-catching cover; such disappointments as I
felt were minor in comparison with the advantages of having
such attractive music from a little-known composer. If it’s
all ultimately unmemorable, that doesn’t diminish the
considerable pleasure of hearing it. I enjoyed this CD better
the second and third times around, which is always a good sign.