Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel: Quadri di Dresda e Bruxelles


Like so many fine composers who are starting to receive their just due in recent times, Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel (1690-1749) was highly respected in his own day. The illustrious music library at the Dresden court in the mid-eighteenth century had Stölzel's music cataloged alongside that of Fux, Hasse, Fasch, Handel, Corelli, Locatelli and Vivaldi. Unfortunately, much of Stölzel's music has been lost. Of the approximately two dozen operas he wrote for example, hardly anything has survived. You have to wonder what music history would have to say about Stölzel if we had much more of his music. Would he be mentioned in the same breath as Telemann or Vivaldi?

Stölzel's Quadri di Dresda e Bruxelles is music that is still firmly rooted in the Baroque, coming as it did from the end of the period when the fashion was turning towards the gallant of the rococo. The nine sonatas are structurally very much alike. Each is in three movements with an Adagio framed by two fast movements, and are scored for violin, oboe, horn, bassoon and cembalo. The instrumentation of Stölzel's sonatas is not so remarkable as how he writes for the instruments. It is unusual to hear such challenging music written for horn in this setting, but Stölzel makes the three upper instruments equals in the duties of handling the melodic lines. Even the bassoon will be provided a melody at times.

We have wonderful performances from the five-member period instrument ensemble Epoca Barocca and cpo provides excellent sonics. Telemann, Vivaldi and Stölzel? We've included a complete Quadro as our musical sample, so you can be the judge.