Baroque enthusiasts should be delighted to discover the music of Georg von Bertouch (1668-1743), a name perhaps better known in Norway, though even there only among informed devotees of chamber music. Bertouch was born in Germany into a titled Protestant family which then emigrated to avoid Catholic authority. As a youth he studied violin with Telemann's father-in-law and made the acquaintance of Bach's cousin Johann Nicolaus, and it was during his travels in Italy with this companion that he accepted a post as steward to a Danish general's family and began a career in the Danish army that saw him through 22 major battles, retiring as a lieutenant-general at the grand age of 72. But during that long and active life, he was also able to establish himself as an influential violinist, composer and conductor, attracting the high praise of the distinguished German composer and critic Johann Mattheson who included him with Handel and a dozen others in his analysis of all that was best in contemporary music at the time.
The ensemble Bergen Barokk presents clear and lively performances of seven of the 24 Sonatas -- he wrote one in each key around 1738, barely a couple of decades after Bach's similar keyboard experiment. Bertouch faced different challenges by using instruments other than the harpsichord. They are conceived in terms of the 'trio sonata', and the interpretations on this disc are designed to demonstrate the various instrumental possibilities that may be applied to the pieces by interchanging wind and string instrumental combinations as suggested by Corelli, Quantz and others, with one Sonata (No 17 in E flat) with an impressive Largo opening movement given to the harpsichord alone
[listen -- track 20, 0:53-1:27].
They are imaginative and fresh with inventiveness, lending themselves well to the various groupings -- No 8 in G with two violins
[listen -- track 1, 0:02-0:31];
No 11 in F with violin and recorder
[listen -- track 10, 0:00-0:30]
and No 14 in G minor given a refreshing buoyancy with recorder, flute and viola da gamba
[listen -- track 30, 0:57-1:22].
Separating the Bertouch Sonatas, Bergen Barokk has included six pieces from the Mestmacher Manuscript, an anthology of 261 short pieces dating from about 1730 and belonging to a Bergen merchant's family. The origins of the pieces are unknown, though an Aria upon which the Ensemble have created their own variations has been attributed to Lully and holds a place still today as 'The Song of Bergen'
[listen -- track 5, 0:00-0:43].
The recording is fine, with a pitch for the most part set at A=415 Hz.
Copyright © 19 January 2008
Patric Standford, Wakefield UK
BUY THIS CD ONLINE
Bertouch: Trio Sonatas with pieces from the Music-Book of Jacob Mestmacher
TOCC 0006 DDD Stereo FIRST RELEASE 65'50" 2005 Toccata Classics
Georg von Bertouch (1668-1743): Sonata No 8 in G; Music-Book of Jacob Mestmacher: March (No 106); Aria (No 248, variations by Bergen Barokk); Bertouch: Sonata No 15 in F minor (Canona Allegro; Adagio; Andante); Mestmacher Music-Book: Paspie de la Compertanje (No 175); Bertouch: Sonata No 11 in F (Vivace; Allegro; Adagio; Allegro); Mestmacher Music-Book: Menuetto (No 13); Gavotte Alternativement (No 53); Bertouch: Sonata No 21 in B flat minor (Andante; Vivace; Adagio; Allegro); Sonata No 17 in E flat (Largo; Andante); Sonata No 12 in D minor (Andante; Adagio; Allegro; Allegro); Mestmacher Music-Book: Allegro et Trio (No 166); Bertouch: Sonata No 14 in G minor (Largo; Andante; Adagio; Vivace)
Record Box is Music & Vision's
regular series of shorter CD reviews