Empires

Latitude 37. Julia Fredersdorff violin, Laura Vaughan viol and lirone, Donald Nicolson harpsichord and organ
Classical, Early Music
ABC Classics 481 0483
Reviewed by , July 1st, 2014

The second CD from this baroque trio, like their first self-titled CD, exposes an exciting concept to contextualise the practice of baroque music. It is conceived as a journey through the conflicted territories of the Holy Roman Empire of the late seventeenth century, centred in present-day Germany. With control of the bordering territories by the Ottoman Empire in a state of flux, the music of those territories drew influence from both the east and the west, and it is upon this premise that the music for the CD derives inspiration.

Bolstered by a significant number of guest artists, the trio presents a broad range of music of the time with cross-pollination of instruments, rhythms, scales and motifs. Western composers represented are Johann Christoph Bach (the nephew of J S Bach’s grandfather), Buxtehude, Biber and Gottfried Finger. The CD opens with a piece by Dimitrie Cantemir, the Moldavian prince who became a great scholar of Turkish music while living in Constantinople.

Latitude 37

Latitude 37

The music is linked by an impressive attention to detail. Despite the broad origins of the music, there is no flippant or gratuitous application of resources. A highlight is two songs featuring male alto Christopher Field, Was Betrübst Du Dich of Christoph Berhard, and the beautiful Ach, Daß Ich Wassers G’nug Hätte of J C Bach.

The CD closes with a suite of anonymous works that marry the harpsichord with the oud as the bridge between the empires.

This is an exciting melange—I look forward to hearing what the group produces next.

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