The focus of this Glossa CD is on the music of a composer who published only one known set of works, the Neue Lauten Stücke of 1724 by Johann Gottfried Conradi. Although fragments of this music have appeared on a couple recordings in the past, this program by baroque lutenist José Miguel Moreno appears to be the only representation of Conradi's music in its entirety ever recorded.
A period of incredible musical richness, the first half of the 18th century saw the careers of Bach, Telemann, Handel, Vivaldi, Scarlatti and Rameau flourish. This same period was also the crest for the wave of popularity that the lute enjoyed as a solo instrument - an instrument that for centuries had been associated with the most intimate, personal and refined music making. In the decades that followed, composition and performance of lute music would wane. Towering over the lute's apogee was Silvius Leopold Weiss (1686-1750) whose know catalog of works for the instrument numbered some six hundred pieces.
In contrast, there is only this scrap of (wonderful) music by Johann Gottfried Conradi. In evidence, lutenist Joseé Miguel Moren was obliged to supplement Conradi's music with that of Jan Antonín Losy (1650-1721) in order to have enough material for a complete CD. Adding mystery to scarcity, there is no information about Conradi himself - when he was born or died, where he lived, what he did, or really, to be absolutely certain, his (or her) gender. But what we can know, and should, is how beautiful Conradi's music is. Listen to the Courante from the pair of pieces in D minor we've provided as a sample. Lutenist José Miguel Moreno performs beautifully, and sums it up in the album notes simply and succinctly stating "The music is fantastic!"
Given his absence in recent years from the studios, it is a pleasure to announce a new recording from that dexterous musical intelligence that is José Miguel Moreno; and so soon too after his album devoted to the music of David Kellner. Again we are in unknown territory – German and Bohemian lute music from around the start of the 18th century – and again with Moreno as a trusty guide playing his self-built 11-course Baroque lute.
1724 marked the date of publication in Frankfurt an der Oder of the Neue Lauten Stücke by one Johann Gottfried Conradi, possibly a scion of a notable German family of composers of the time. 1721 saw the death of the aristocratic Jan Antonín Losy, a Bohemian lutenist greatly admired by his contemporaries (including by that towering figure of the instrument, Silvius Leopold Weiss, who dedicated to Losy a heartfelt Tombeau).
The surviving output of both these barely-known figures of the Baroque solo lute music tradition is small but José Miguel Moreno presents three exemplary suites full of improvisatory preludes and characterful dance movements (Courantes, Gigues, Sarabandes, Minuets...), allowing him both to demonstrate how Conradi and Losy had absorbed influences coming from France and Italy but also to evoke the interior rhetoric of the music of these composers in Moreno’s inimitable exuberant style.
José Miguel Moreno is one of the leading specialists of historical plucked string instruments, but with a repertory that extends from the 16th century to the present day. A co-founder of Glossa, he had previously recorded with Teresa Berganza for Philips and with Hespèrion XX for Astrée.
Jan Antonín Losy, Count of Losinthal (1650 – 1721) was a Bohemian aristocrat, Baroque lute player and composer from Prague. His lute works combine the French style brisé with a more Italian cantabile style. He was probably the most significant lutenist-composer in Bohemia at the height of the lute’s popularity there.
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Johann Gottfried Conradi: Courante, piece in D minor for lute