The Camerata Köln is a Cologne-based chamber ensemble devoted largely to early music, with a special focus on woodwind compositions. The group's repertory includes concertos, quartets, quintets, sonatas, and other works mainly from the post-Renaissance era and reaching into the Classical period. The group concertizes regularly in Germany and most parts of Europe and has made numerous tours of the Americas and other parts of the globe. By 2006, it had made well over 50 recordings…
Handel's Concerti Grossi opus 6 must surely be ranked as some of the greatest orchestral music ever composed. Probably penned in or around 1739, the pieces were developed to serve as orchestral "interludes" for other operatic or oratorio performances. To listen to them, however, is to tempt us not believe that this could possibly be the case: the Concerti Grossi opus 6 works are without doubt among the pinnacle of Baroque composition. After listening to these, we are left with a distinct sadness that Handel did not turn his attention more to this genre, as his masterful treatment in the opus 6 shows us his true genius.
Even though Franz Joseph Haydn is widely credited as the father of the string quartet, the Casal Quartet makes a startling claim that the honor may belong to Franz Xaver Richter, whose seven String Quartets, Op. 5, seem to have determined the character of the genre, from their first performance by Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf's quartet in 1757. Richter's quartets preceded Haydn's and Boccherini's earliest efforts by several years, suggesting that they were likely influential. Furthermore, the sophistication and polish of his Op. 5 suggests that he may well have composed other such quartets, though if he did, they are lost.
Born in Toledo, Manuel Canales (1747-1786) moved to Madrid around 1770 and entered into the service of the Duke of Alba. A frequent visitor to the court of King Carlos III, he likely associated with his more famous contemporary, Luigi Boccherini, who was also in this flourishing cultural center at the same time. Canales' string quartets show a familiarity with his work, as well as with the early compositions of Haydn.
Originally published in London, these 3 quartets form the first half of Op.3. The only known chamber works of Canales, these compositions follow the usual four movement format, although they place the Minuet as the 2nd movement, instead of the more customary 3rd position.
Mendelssohn (1809-1847) is a perennially underrated composer who finally may be coming to greater appreciation. Certainly this fine recording (in English) of a masterpiece that he believed joined the Jewish faith of his fathers with his own Protestant Christianity should not hurt his reputation. The superb Welsh baritone Bryn Terfel gives a dramatically charged performance in the title role, while soprano Renee Fleming sings with beauty and limpid understanding; the cast is almost uniformly strong. The Edinburgh Festival Chorus, directed by David Jones, sings with care and conviction, and Paul Daniel conducts his forces firmly. –Sarah Bryan Miller.