Royal Recorder Concertos: Music from the Court of King Frederik IV
There have been CDs of ‘Danish’ Baroque orchestral repertoire before, notably from Concerto Copenhagen, but there’s certainly room for more. I put ‘Danish’ in inverted commas because none of these composers of ‘Music from the Court of King Frederik IV’ (actually from that of his son Christian VI as well) was actually Danish, and only one of them, Johann Adolph Scheibe, worked in Denmark. Mind you, most of the repertoire of the 18th-century Danish court perished long ago in a succession of fires, so it is reasonable to include works by Graupner and JH Graun, who were both popular there, while the Schickhardt recorder sonata whose third movement is offered at the end, seemingly as a taster for a future disc (the whole sonata can be downloaded from Dacapo), was dedicated to Frederik.
None of the works here would qualify as a lost masterpiece. All feature the recorder prominently and are competently written in the light-spirited German style of the 1730s and ’40s, which is to say pretty much that of Telemann. Graupner in particular, with his six-movement ouverture-suite and three-movement concerto, is firmly so; but while pleasant enough, his music rambles and sadly lacks Telemann’s personality and wit. Scheibe, remembered today mainly as a baiter of JS Bach, offers a recorder concerto with a hint of galant to it, and Graun’s characterful double concerto has a rather romantic Adagio. The programme is completed by a suite of anonymous dances orchestrated for this recording from guitar pieces in a manuscript that belonged to Frederik’s daughter Princess Charlotte Amalie.
Unsurprisingly, the project is the brainchild of recorder soloist Bolette Roed, whose playing is cleanly articulated and stylish. This is not a particularly virtuoso programme for her, and the well-judged primus inter pares balance with the ever-excellent Polish string players of Arte dei Suonatori eloquently reflects the fact.