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Forgotten Treasures, Vol 12: Molter: Ouvertüre, Sinfonia und Concerti - Willens

Forgotten Treasures, Vol 12: Molter: Ouvertüre, Sinfonia und Concerti - Willens

Ars Produktion  ARS 38 252

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Molter: Sinfonia in C major, Oboe concerto in G minor, Cello concerto in C major, Bassoon concerto in B flat major, Flute concerto in D major, Violin Concerto in B minor, Ouvertüre in G major

Christopher Palameta, oboe
Vladimir Waltham, cello
Javier Zafra, bassoon
Anna Besson, flute
Catherine Martin, violin
Kölner Akademie
Michael Alexander Willens, conductor

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Review by Adrian Quanjer - December 22, 2020

When Maestro Willens and his period band are back with a further ARS Produktion release in the Forgotten Treasures series that’s good news. I’ve reviewed several of the previous volumes and they were without exception of a high standard indeed. Was there a secret formula? I think so. What some consider to be second rate music needs first-rate musicians to lift it out of its anonymity. Will they succeed once more?

Though Johann Melchior Molter may not be a household name for many music fans, selected items of his output have their staunch followers, notably his clarinet and trumpet concerti. Of his oeuvre, only a handful recordings are to be found, among which two in Super Audio Molter: Clarinet, Trumpet Concertos; Symphony and Molter: Sonata grossa - Main-Barockorchester Frankfurt. But all that’s on offer here are new additions to the catalogue.

Listening to this selection of orchestral and solo pieces, nicely arranged in an attractive programme, gave me 25 tracks of pure enjoyment, reminding me in all aspects of Teleman’s Tafelmusik. Nothing heavy, everything neatly-structured with appealing melodies, and no doubt geared to entertain his noble paymasters. Movements seldom last longer than 3-4 minutes. As to be expected from late baroque music, the solo concerti demand a fair amount of virtuosity. Anna Besson (flute), Christoph Palameta (oboe), Javier Zafra (bassoon), Catherine Martin (violin), and Vladimir Waltham (cello), having earned their laurels as players in and soloists with the world’s top baroque orchestras, are more than up to it. Orchestral support is in the capable hands of Michael Alexander Willens and core musicians of his Kölner Akademie. What more can one possibly wish for?

My conclusion is a simple one: together with the albums cited above, Willens cs. (and ARS) have hit a horn of plenty because Hofkapellmeister Molter was an exceptionally productive composer with no less than 140 (according to one site I consulted) or 170 symphonies (says another), and a multitude of overtures, concerti, choral and chamber works on his note sheets. Around 600 in total. A real treasure trove, one might say. We may hopefully look forward to more of this fare, pleasantly cleansing the brain after having consumed too much Bruckner or similarly demanding masterpieces.

The liner notes are exceptionally noteworthy. Its author, Harrison Powley, must have done extensive research, delving up more detail than anywhere else available. Moreover, the Dutchman, Ruud van Ommeren, financially involved in previous volumes, has once again participated in this release and I suppose that he must have been instrumental in getting the ‘Prins Bernard Cultuurfonds’ (a cultural foundation created by the late Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands) to support this release. I furthermore understand that the front cover taken from a José Herrera painting is part of Mr van Ommeren’s private collection.

There is one more thing, though. And an important one it is, too. Not only first-rate musicians are key to superbly transfiguring music from oblivion to a classical ‘chart-topper’, but also the recording plays a decisive role in this process. Soundstage, depth, surround, and a warm bass line is once again the fruit of expert engineering by the ARS recording team, making this a most desirable release for us, music lovers.

Blangy-le-Château, Normandy, France

Copyright © 2020 Adrian Quanjer and HRAudio.net

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Comment by oxenholme - January 3, 2021 (1 of 1)

Five stars for the multichannel Adrian? Does that mean it's concert hall ambiance rather than being up there with the musicians?