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Violin Concertos from Darmstadt
Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Concerto in D, TWV 53:D5 [12:34]
Johann Jakob KRESS (c1685-1728)
Concerto ā 5 in c, Op. 1 No. 2 [7:50]
Concerto ā 5 in C, Op. 1 No. 6 [10:30]
Johann Friedrich FASCH (1688-1758)
Concerto in D, FWV L:D4a [13:13]
Johann Samuel ENDLER (1694-1762)
Ouverture in D [23:48]
Darmstädtler Barocksolisten/Johannes Pramsohler (violin)
rec. 2017, Michaelskirche, Darmstadt
Premiere recordings except Telemann
AUDAX RECORDS ADX13716 [68:07]

Two new names for me here – Kress and Endler – together with one moderately well-known and one very prominent. The four works are linked by their presence in an extensive collection of violin concertos from the Baroque era in the archives of the Darmstadt court. The city was heavily bombed in World War II, so it is fortunate that the music survived. Kress was concertmaster for the orchestra in the early 18th century, and it is surmised that he may have been the soloist intended for some of these works. Endler was conductor of a Collegium Musicum in Leipzig before moving to Darmstadt, where he was concertmaster and Kapellmeister, following Kress and Graupner, respectively.

The Telemann is the only work previously recorded, and this new version compares favourably with Reinhold Goebel’s Archiv recording with Musica Antiqua Köln. Pramsohler and his band may not have quite the snap and verve of the older recording, but there is still plenty of energy, and for some, the smoother sound of the modern instruments may be a plus.

The four works new to the catalogue are likely to be the main reason Baroque aficionados will consider this release, and they won’t be disappointed. The C minor concerto of Kress has a stylistic similarity to Bach’s fifth Brandenburg Concerto; the notes propose the possibility that Bach may have known of Kress’ work and used some of it, but this doesn’t seem to be supported by actual evidence. Whatever the history, the two Kress concertos, being strings-only have a greater sense of seriousness than the other works which are more extroverted with the inclusion of brass and woodwind. The Fasch concerto, with the trumpets, timpani, oboes and bassoon, is a much richer, more showy work, though I still prefer those by Kress. Endler’s Ouverture is very much of its era, intended for courtly entertainment and featuring many virtuosic passages for the solo violinist.

Director and soloist Johannes Pramsohler has a number of recordings for Audax (his own label) under his belt, especially as part of Ensemble Diderot (review ~ review ~ review ~ review), all of which have been received well on this site. The Darmstädtler Barocksolisten seems to be a new collaboration. Formed in 2004 from players in the Darmstadt State Orchestra, they play on modern instruments, but with historically informed performance.

I find myself more in tune, if you’ll pardon the expression, with the orchestra than its leader, whose timbre is a little dry for my taste. I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with his playing, but I would have liked just a little more warmth, in keeping with that projected by the strings of the Darmstadters. I’d not encountered an Audax release before, and was most impressed by the presentation in a hardcover book. The notes are informative, especially considering the limited information available about Kress and Endler, and are provided in English, French, German and Japanese. Sound quality is good, and the engineers seem to have avoided any extraneous noises from the players.

David Barker

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