AMN Reviews: Various Artists – Baroque Music in the 21st Century (Winter & Winter)

Ernst Reijseger, Moers Festival 2007
Ernst Reijseger, Moers Festival 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As its two hundred and first release, Winter & Winter erects a caravansarie arraying its dedication to the Baroque era music which speckles its hefty catalogue of innovative jazz, “audio films” about Alpine sanatoriums, the streets of old New York and old, metropolitan Shanghai, visits to bordellos and Bulgarian weddings, and contributors as diverse as Jim Black and Werner Herzog.

With its clarity and ornamental virtuosity, Baroque music, which thrived between roughly 1600 and the mid-18th century, is kind of the great-grandfather of popular electronic music, from seventies kosmische krautrock to faster-than-light drum´n´bass – it´s no surprise that the first big selling synthesizer album was Walter Carlos´ “Switched-On Bach”.

“Baroque Music in the 21st Century” stays close to traditional early music interpretations, the “historical performance practise”, featuring for example two of the more sedate pieces by Uri Caine from his otherwise wildly unorthodox “Goldberg Variations”, but also features Teodoro Anzellotti´s nearly possessed accordion from the same double set. A wise choice in context, a way to showcase the music and the vitality with which it is still performed by the likes of Lorenzo & Vittorio Ghielmi, Susanne Rydén, Ernst Reijseger, Forma Antiqva and Die Freitagsakademie – in other words, both those dedicated to preserving the spirit of the period, of Vivaldi, Bach and Scarlatti, and master players open to anything of lasting quality.

More than just an audio balett of courtliness and Christian piety, it´s as vivid and alive as the laboured breathing you hear over the viola da gamba on Ghielmi and Pianca´s “La Couperin”. I suppose it automatically becomes the best Baroque compilation of the new millennium.

Stephen Fruitman