Johann Rosenmuller: Sonatas for 2, 3, 4 & 5 instruments / Ensemble Masques Mar29

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Album at a Glance

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ATMA Classique Record Label - ATMA Classique: "What inspires us is simply our passion for recording sound, and for sharing, both through the traditional medium of the disc and through cyberspace, our acoustic images of imagined worlds."
Release date: 2013-03-26


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Johann Rosenmüller: 12 Sonatas for 2, 3, 4 & 5 instruments / Ensemble Masques


German baroque composer Johann Rosenmüller (1617-1684) spent the first half of his adult life in Leipzig. He spent the rest of his life in Italy after being imprisoned on charges of homosexuality, jailed, and subsequently absconding to Venice. Considered by some scholars to be "the greatest master of German instrumental music before Bach and Handel" (musicologist Kurt Gudewill), the Sonate a 2, 3, 4 e 5 stromenti of 1682 on this ATMA Classique album are considered the crowning achievement of his instrumental output. They are also deemed the most successful fusion of German and Italian styles of the early baroque. His music enjoyed great popularity during and well after his time; it was also a considerable influence on his contemporary composers.

Made up of anywhere from three to twelve brief and contrasting sections, Rosenmüller intended these twelve sonatas to be performed by strings and basso continuo as they are here. His familiarity and use of both Italian and German styles gives his music a remarkable range of textures, and a never-ending flow of melodic, harmonic and rhythmic invention keeps the music fresh and interesting. His music can be highly chromatic - he will sometimes employ parallel lines of rising and falling half-steps as the harmonic foundation for his embellished melodic line.

Aside from a dozen or so CDs ever produced that are devoted entirely to Rosenmüller's, there are some 25 more anthology-type programs which contain a track or two of his music. Of those, only about a dozen are currently available, which makes the release of this beautifully performed program from the Montreal-based early music band Ensemble Masques all the more welcome. This should not be missed by anyone who enjoys exploring 17th-century chamber music.

Watch Ensemble Masques perform Johann Rosenmuller's Sonata in F.