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BacHasse - Opposites attract
Johann Adolf HASSE (1699-1783)
Cantata per flauto in B flat [13:07]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Prelude in F sharp minor (BWV 883) [02:45]
Ihr werdet weinen und heulen (BWV 103): “Kein Arzt ist außer dir zu finden” [03:53]
Johann Adolf HASSE
Bella, mi parto, oh Dio, cantata [12:48]
Johann Sebastian BACH
Partita No. 2 in d minor (BWV 1002): Allemanda [04:58]
Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn (BWV 119): “Die Obrigkeit ist Gottes Gabe” [03:02]
Suite No. 5 in C minor (BWV 1011), transposed to G minor: Sarabande [02:09]
Himmelskönig, sei willkommen (BWV 182): “Leget euch dem Heiland unter” [07:03]
Johann Adolf HASSE
Scrivo in te l'amato Nome, cantata [12:39]
Benno Schachtner (alto), Stefan Temmingh (recorder)
The Gentleman's Band (Domen Marincic [viola da gamba, cello]; Wiebke Weidanz [harpsichord, lute-harpsichord, organ])
rec. 2015, Malteserstift St. Josef, Stamberg-Percha, Germany
Texts and translations included
ACCENT ACC24315 [62:33]

Johann Adolf Hasse was the most internationally-known German composer in the second and third quarters of the 18th century. His reputation was particularly founded on his numerous operas, which were performed across Europe, from Napels to London, often with a leading role for his wife, the mezzo-soprano Faustina Bordoni. In comparison Johann Sebastian Bach was not more than a provincial Kapellmeister who never left Germany and whose music was not known outside his own country. Even within Germany he was not ranked among the most important composers. Only his qualities as an organist were undisputed.

It was quite an original idea to bring these two composers together. They seem worlds apart, also because Bach focused on the composition of sacred music, instrumental and keyboard music. Although Hasse did contribute to those genres as well and his output of sacred music is quite large, his operas are the most important part of his oeuvre. It is quite likely, that the two men knew each other personally, but there seems to be no firm documentary evidence of that. In an interview with Karsten Erik Ose in the booklet to his recording "bacHasse" Stefan Temmingh states, that Bach visited opera performances in Dresden, together with his eldest son Wilhelm Friedemann, and even became friends. But Alberto Basso in the article on Hasse in the Oxford Composers Companion about Bach is much more cautious in this matter. He also refers to Bach's biographer Johann Nikolaus Forkel, who wrote that Hasse, together with his wife, visited Bach in Leipzig and admired his talents. It has also been suggested that Bach's cantata Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen (BWV 51) may have been intended for Faustina Bordoni.

In the end, this is all speculation. But there is nothing speculative about Bach being influenced by the Italian style, especially the Vivaldian solo concerto. The Italian influence is also notable in his cantatas, with their sequence of recitatives and arias. What we get on this disc is a mixture of sacred and secular pieces. Temmingh states: "My intention with this CD is to break with modern conventions. You can hear both sacred and secular music. These days these two genres are seldom mixed. And for all our apparent liberalism and multiculturalism today, this separation shows just how conservative we really are. In these politically explosive times, my hope is for more cultural openness - at least as open-minded and liberal as Bach was when he used secular cantatas as the basis for his Christmas Oratorio."

As Temmingh is a recorder player it was to be expected that this instrument would play a role in the programme. That is less obvious than one may think as the recorder was rather old-fashioned at the time Bach and Hasse were colleagues. Bach didn't compose a single sonata or concerto for the recorder. It was included in two of the Brandenburg Concertos, but otherwise Bach used it only in sacred works, for instance in the three cantatas from which the arias on this disc are taken. In all three the recorder - of different kinds - plays an obbligato part.

As Hasse was a more 'modern' composer his writing for the recorder is even more remarkable. The Cantata per flauto - in fact a sonata - which opens the programme was found in the library of Count Harrach, who came from Vienna and acted as Habsburg Viceroy in Naples from 1728 to 1733. Hasse was in Naples at the end of the 1720s, and this explains the presence of this piece in Harrach's library. Equally unusual is the participation of the recorder in his cantata Scrivo in te l'amato Nome. This can be explained from the text, which includes a reference to songbirds in the recitative and to the nightingale in the closing aria. In the latter the recorder plays some figures which imitate birdsong. It is notable that the work-list in New Grove does not include a cantata with this title in this scoring. Such a piece is ranked among the cantatas with orchestra; the scoring is for two transverse flutes, two oboes, two horns, strings and bc. Is the cantata performed here another piece or is it in fact an arrangement of the cantata with orchestra?

In the baroque perios chamber cantatas were mostly scored for solo voice and basso continuo, although Hasse's oeuvre includes a considerable number of cantatas with one or two obbligato treble parts. Bella, mi parto, oh Dio belongs to the former category; it is about a lover who has to leave his loved one and fears that a rival may turn up during his absence.

In addition to the vocal pieces we hear some instrumental items, all taken from larger works. There is no fundamental objection against playing pieces in a different scoring, but obviously there are some technical limitations. Bach's sonatas and partitas for violin solo include too much double stopping to be transported to the recorder.

I have listened to this disc with much pleasure. Temmingh delivers a very good performance of Hasse's recorder 'cantata'; the pathos of the adagio comes better off here than in Michael Schneider's interpretation (review) whose tempo is too fast. Benno Schachtner is excellent in the vocal items. He sings the Bach arias beautifully and the cooperation with Temmingh is immaculate. His performance of Hasse's cantata Bella, mio parto, oh Dio is differentiated and expressive; I also liked his treatment of ornamentation which is never exaggerated. The cheerfulness of Scrivo in te l'amato Nome is very well conveyed. The recitatives are performed with the right amount of rhythmic freedom.

This original programme of music for voice and recorder will give you much pleasure.

Johan van Veen



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