This is an outstanding recording that everyone interested in the French baroque will enjoy. Those familiar with the famous fanfare that begins Charpentier's "Te Deum" will delight in the equally celebratory "Marche de triomphe" that opens this program -- a grand spectacular that the Köln musicians perform to the hilt . . . The program begins with a bang and it ends with an even more spectacular one . . . Listeners used to the recent . . . approach . . . in Charpentier's orchestral music are in for a treat with Goebel's dynamically charged, roof-raising performance. Archiv's sound is equally spectacular with plenty of spatial presence and instrumental detail. Goebel's notes are informative and entertaining. Also included is a nearly 70-minute bonus CD sampler commemorating Musica Antiqua Köln's 25 years with Archiv.
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ClassicsToday.com / 01. January 2004
. . . a marvellous CD that focuses on the instrumental music that Charpentier wrote specifically for the church . . . The vividness of the music is due to the skill of the wonderful performers, who are led by the fiery Baroque violinist Reinhard Goebel. This CD proves that he, in particular, is still up there with the best. The players bring out all the delicacy of the music . . . The mystery is how this sensuous beauty can go hand-n-hand with a solemn, almost stony dignity. It is a riddle that will want to make you listen again and again.
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Times/Eye / 31. January 2004
. . . celebratory disc of religious music.
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Classic FM (London) / 01. February 2004
. . . fine performances of seldom heard and satisfying music.
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BBC Music Magazine (London) / 01. March 2004
. . . fascinating disc . . . makes excellent listening, even when divorced from its liturgical context. Musica Antiqua Köln's shapely, elegant performances capture the spirit of this very unusual repertoire . . .
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Daily Telegraph (London) / 27. March 2004
Das Wort ist Klang geworden, und Goebel ist sein Prophet. Seine äußerst präsente... Interpretation folgt sensiblen Wegen der Text-Exegese bis zur verbindlichsten Expression, rückt Kolorit und Schattierungen ins gebührende Licht, lässt die Musik ihren heiligen Geist atmen, begeistert mit Anmut und Verve.
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Stereoplay (Stuttgart) / 01. January 2004
Für die renommierte Archiv Produktion der DG hat die Musica Antiqua Köln unzählige Schätze der Alten Musik gefördert und bewahrt. Mit prächtigen Sakralwerden von Marc-Antoine Charpentier zelebriert das vom Violinisten Reinhard Goebel begründete Originalklang-Ensemble sein 30jähriges Bestehen.
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Bühne (Wien) / 01. February 2004
Hier wird Charpentiers Musik zum absolutistischen Fest. Einfach prickelnd...
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Concerto (Köln) / 01. February 2004
eine Rarität . . .
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Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung / 17. April 2004
... nous ne pouvons que saluer d'une part, l'exhumation d'oeuvre en grande partie inédites, d'autre part, l'engagement de Reinhard Goebel et des virtuoses de Cologne : en faisant ainsi sonner l'orchestre de Charpentier sans a priori, en affirmant autant les beautés que la force de son langage, ils nous transportent par moments dans un état de pur ravissement.
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Diapason (Paris) / 01. March 2004
. . . la magie opère: écoutez seulement la «Messe pour plusieurs instruments au lieu des orgues», dans laquelle alternent violons, flûtes et hautbois avec les voix limitées au plain-chant . . . Le mélange des flûtes allemandes (ou traversières) est sans doute l'une des plus belles couleurs offertes par l'instrumentarium du Grand Siècle («Kyrie» et «Domine Deus»). Les hautbois . . . s'intègrent bien aux ensembles: quelle allure dans la «Marche de triomphe» ou le «Second Air de trompettes»! De même les cordes, qui jouent la «Symphonie pour un reposoir» avec la même force d'archet que s'il s'agissait d'un Biber.
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Classica - Repertoire (Paris) / 01. March 2004
Musica Antiqua Köln supplante aisément les versions Chailley et Malgoire; et si quelques traits peuvent sembler un peu rudes, la générosité des couleurs et de l'expression assume la démesure d'une partition unique en son genre.
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Diapason (Paris) / 01. October 2004
... un sonido «grande», muy abierto, muy relajado ... Es un placer escuchar estos años de historia de los MAK resumidos en un disco que es, en cierto modo, un poco la historia de quienes amamos, y de qué manera, la música antigua. Felicidades.
Record Review /
Francisco de Paula Sánchez,
CD Compact (Barcelona) / 01. February 2004
... la interpretación es fabulosa, toda vez que Goebel es uno de los grandes chamanes de la música barroca y casi nunca defrauda. ... Ya saben: Bach, Telemann, Heinichen... del más alto nivel. ¡Buen provecho!
Record Review /
Ritmo (Madrid) / 01. May 2004
An abiding passion for bringing old music vibrantly to life
Musica Antiqua Köln - Reinhard Goebel
It has become a rare occurrence indeed in the music industry for a free-standing ensemble to be able to celebrate its 30th anniversary, and for 25 of those years, without break, to be under contract to the same record company. What's their secret?
This success story began with the "boot": Reinhard Goebel and a group of fellow students were chucked out of the Cologne Conservatory. For months they'd been the ensemble who accompanied recorder exams, but then a gamba player who wasn't a student joined them, and the young musicians were no longer allowed to rehearse at the Conservatory. A quick end to a courageous new venture? Not a bit. Driven by an insatiable appetite for Baroque chamber- and church-musical discoveries, and encouraged by the success of numerous concerts, Reinhard Goebel and his ensemble Musica Antiqua Köln decided to make their own way. Ten years later they appeared for the first time in orchestral strength.
Quickly attracting attention with its first, private recording, Musica Antiqua Köln was signed up in 1978 by Archiv Produktion/Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft. The company's then president and producer Prof. Dr. Andreas Holschneider became an important adviser, friend, and supporter. He scrutinized their programmes - often still hair-raisingly unearthed from archival obscurity - and gauged their effectiveness for performance and suitability for recording. "I learned many things from him," says Goebel, "above all good taste." Dr. Holschneider struck a balance between the familiar and the less familiar, bringing out music by J. S. Bach, Vivaldi, Handel, and Telemann, but also by Biber, Leclair, Buonamente, and Bach's sons.
But the timing for such things has to be ripe - and so the exciting Heinichen programme at first had to be put on ice. How could "Little Heini" be expected to appeal to the masses? The opening of Eastern Europe and the unobstructed sight of Dresden radically altered that situation. Not one, but two CDs of Heinichen's music were recorded, and the passionate commitment of Musica Antiqua Köln was richly rewarded. In 1993-94 alone their recording Dresden Concerti won the Jahrespreis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, the Gramophone Award, the Prix Caecilia (Brussels), the Echo Award, and the CD Compact Award.
Musica Antiqua Köln became a trademark for good sounds and musical discoveries - on so-called original instruments. Its personnel has changed over the years - only one musician has remained to this day, driving force and musicological advisory council rolled into one: Reinhard Goebel. Thanks to his philosophy of instrumental sound and his urge for exploration, Musica Antiqua Köln has held an esteemed place in the musical world for 30 years without ever submitting to the pressure of changing fashions. The collection of music they've copied out by hand, now comprising some 45 leather-bound volumes numbered in gold leaf, makes a deep impression. What began out of necessity - because the compositions he included in his programmes with the "courage of his convictions" (Goebel) generally came from archives, and there were no facsimile editions - has remained an essential foundation of their work, a way of learning the music from the inside out. The investment of time and effort has paid off.
The sound of the ensemble is distinctive but not disconcerting. A deep knowledge born of intensively studying practical conventions at the time of the composition makes possible an imaginative approach to early performance practice. The ensemble has taken great care to find a sound that comes across as neither edgy and odd or purring and shimmery. Inspired by the spaces in which the music was performed when it was new, they have sought a clear, appealing and rhythmically contoured sound that would support the singing, resilient, and clearly articulated musical line. In order to define this sound, Goebel bought several violins by the great 17th-century maker Jacob Stainer and to this day the ensemble uses mostly harpsichords built by Hill or Kroesbergen. But the choice of instruments is not a religion. What's important is the individual player, because, as Goebel says, "the instruments are, after all, only tools. They have to be cultivated and looked after, but they're not intellectual or spiritual agents."
In its records and CDs, from the very beginning, Musica Antiqua Köln has attached great importance to rendering the sound as a totality. Reinhard Goebel has definite ideas on the subject: "Look, this is our concert seating, thus and so is what they write in the 18th century: the harpsichord is placed in the middle and has no lid, and we stand around it. So why should it now be stuck in back with a violin in front to the left and another in front to the right?"
It comes as no surprise that the Belgian director Gérard Corbiau, made famous by his film Farinelli, selected the historically knowledgeable, musicologically engrossed and passionate Reinhard Goebel and Musica Antiqua Köln to produce the music for his film about Louis XIV, Le Roi danse. It was clear that the ensemble would accept no compromises and admit no exaggerated effects, and Corbiau agreed to - indeed relied on - Goebel's choosing the best, most historically apt music for his film, still only a scenario. The images would come later. Goebel leafed through some 5000 pages of manuscripts, mostly music by Lully, and came up with some exciting finds. "The French themselves make the mistake of shifting almost their entire history into the age of Madame Pompadour, equating French with delicate and flowing, but what he wanted was powerful, warlike music, music that exclaimed: Here I am!"
A new high-point in their investigations of French music is the recording of Charpentier, for many years known only as the composer of the Eurovision theme music. When Musica Antiqua Köln played one of his suites 25 years ago, that was a one-time encounter. But, as Reinhard Goebel explains, the search for repertoire is like a game of chess. With the retiring of one figure, the field is opened up for others. Charpentier's time seems to have arrived, a fact confirmed by the recent appearance in Paris of the first facsimile edition of his music. And of course the intensive study of his works has also led Musica Antiqua Köln once to again to some of the most exciting and beautiful discoveries.
Initially dismissed (like all groups who played on so-called original instruments) as being of only peripheral importance, Musica Antiqua Köln and its ideas are now in the mainstream of musical practice. The ramifications of this state of affairs have not been entirely positive. Many players move from one ensemble to another in order to associate themselves with big names, or just to "be there". To be a musician of Musica Antiqua Köln requires an ongoing commitment to the matter in hand: the ability to bring theoretical findings vibrantly to life and translate them with great virtuosity on one's instrument. It's a question of exploring the most extreme possibilities - whether reading, listening or discussing - in order to develop those things that form a basis for communicating the music through ensemble playing. "If that's what you want to establish," says Reinhard Goebel, "then you have to look at both sides, you have to be both defence counsel and prosecutor." And because this has been the ensemble's philosophy from its very inception, even its earliest recordings have lost nothing of their sparkling vitality and immediate potency.
Charpentier - "One of the most profound and learned of composers"
It has to exist - poetic justice. The fame and honour that were denied to Marc-Antoine Charpentier during his lifetime were spectacularly showered on him 249 years after his death: from 1953 onwards, the introductory festive fanfare from his Te Deum (H. 146) was used as the Eurovision theme tune, putting into the right frame of mind a whole generation of television viewers who grew up in Europe after the Second World War and who were regaled with the opening bars of the piece whenever they clustered round their sets and tuned into broadcasts of the Olympic Games or state visits, state burials or other events of international importance. Time and again this festive music filled millions of viewers with a sense of elation. And if these viewers were also musicians or concert-goers who happened to attend a performance of the work (an occurrence by no means common in Germany), they would discover that these opening bars were an immeasurably successful captatio benevolentiae: on hearing them, listeners would make themselves comfortable on their wooden pews, nudge each other with a smile of recognition and lend a well-disposed ear to the music that follows on from Eurovision's instantly recognized signature tune.
It was perhaps largely by chance that the opening fanfare from Charpentier's Te Deum became internationally famous in musical circles. After all, there were few people at this time who were interested in French music of the ancien régime, the main exceptions being the unforgotten conductor Jean-François Paillard and his Saarland colleague Karl Ristenpart. But the second aspect of this act of poetic justice was certainly intentional, being part of a wider plan: starting in 1990, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the French Ministry of Culture, the Fondation Salabert, and the publishing house of Minkoff brought out the composer's Meslanges autographes in twenty-eight facsimile volumes, containing all Charpentier's surviving works.
In his Epitaphium Carpentarij - Charpentier's ironical, not to say cynical, cantata to his own words - the composer imagines himself as a ghost: "I was a musician, considered good by the good musicians, and ignorant by the ignorant ones. And since those who scorned me were more numerous than those who praised me, music brought me small honour and great burdens. And just as I at birth brought nothing into this world, thus when I died I took nothing away."
This is the sum total of our knowledge of Charpentier as based on autobiographical sources. Fortunately, another musician, who had good reason to be angry with Charpentier for snatching from under his nose the post of principal conductor at the Sainte Chapelle on the Île de la Cité in Paris, was not so reticent. The composer, collector of music and lexicographer Sébastien de Brossard (1655-1730), has the following to say about his slightly older colleague in the catalogue of his private library: "This Monsieur Charpentier, whom I believe to be from Paris, remained for some years in Rome, where he was a disciple and extremely assiduous advocate of the famous Carissimi. Although it is very hard to believe, I was assured that he had a phenomenal memory and that, having heard a composition, he could write it down, every part note perfect. It was in this way that Carissimi's motets, including Vidi impium and Emendamus in melius, as well as several of his oratorios, none of which had previously appeared in print, came to France - or so, at least, it is claimed. On his return from Italy, he worked for a time for the Comédie Française. [...] He also wrote a large number of other works both sacred and profane, all of which are exceptionally fine. [...] It is because of his dealings with Italy in his youth that a number of French observers, excessively purist or, rather, envious of the excellence of his music, have most inappropriately seized the opportunity to criticize him for his Italian taste, but one can say without flattering him that he took over only what is good about this style. [...]
In 1696 [recte 1698] the post of choirmaster at the Sainte Chapelle fell vacant and the then treasurer, Monsieur Fleuriau, had one of his relatives write to me in Strasbourg, where I was staying at the time. It took a week for me to receive the letter and travel by mail coach to Paris, and during that time Sieur Charpentier set his pupil, Monseigneur le Duc de Chartres, to work, importuning him so effectively that the Abbé Fleuriau was obliged to give him the post, which I found already filled on my arrival, but I was easily consoled for this. Monsieur Charpentier held the appointment until his death in the early part of 1704, when he left the post to Monsieur Bernier."
Charpentier has now been restored to favour as a vocal composer, although he still has to share the interest of both listeners and performing musicians with a whole host of Lully's imitators - the very people who made life difficult for him during his lifetime. This is the only way of explaining the neglect still suffered in practice by his sacred instrumental music, above all his phenomenal Messe pour plusieurs instruments that takes up and develops the tradition of the French messe d'orgue and, as such, remains unique, no later composers having revived or elaborated this particular type of Mass. Equally unique are the suites "pour un reposoir" that were presumably written for the festive processions and for the display of the relics of the Crown of Thorns that have been preserved on the Île de la Cité for centuries: none of Charpentier's contemporaries is known to have written anything similar.
For the purposes of the present recording of the works pour un reposoir, we have eschewed the interpolations from the Gregorian liturgy that are mentioned by Charpentier, as these figural settings are already long enough to have a musical life of their own. In the case of the Mass, by contrast, we did not want to forgo this element: the work's charm unfolds in all its beauty only in the antiphonal relationship between the monophonic Gregorian sections and the extremely short but differently coloured individual movements in which what at the time were markedly modern French ideas are combined with Italian influences and related to the Gregorian lines.
To the extent that it worked and seemed plausible, we have tried to meet the literally terrifying demands of the Messe in terms of the number of musicians involved. As a result, the recorders do not alternate with the oboes. Rather, each group is made up of three players. Inasmuch as the "cromorne" does not exist as a bass instrument and there are no instruments corresponding to Charpentier's "basse de flutes" (nor are there any adequate transverse flutes for the tenor register), we have used bassoons and bass recorders for the parts in question. (In the case of the former, we have Lully's sanction, as he occasionally uses the term "cromorne" for the bassoon.)
With its wholly unexpected melodic shifts, bold harmonies, and relationes non harmoniae that can be heard not least in the Messe pour plusieurs instruments recorded here, Charpentier's music is not easy listening, being neither instantly memorable nor readily digestible. Rather, it is highly demanding and not always accessible to every listener from the outset. Audiences are required to make an effort to understand it - perhaps this is one of the reasons why Charpentier was never really able to gain a foothold at the French court, where the majority of listeners could not be won over with highly complex pieces of this kind. All the more was his music valued by connoisseurs, including Charpentier's comrade-in-arms Sébastien de Brossard who, his rivalry notwithstanding, was always conscious of his colleague's skill and who paid public tribute to him in his comments in his library catalogue, praising him as the "most profound and learned of modern composers".
Musica Antiqua Köln - Reinhard Goebel - A Chronology
"As usual, Mr. Goebel and his crack instrumental colleagues infuse the music with a fierce vitality to match their virtuosity." The New York Times
Reinhard Goebel was born on 31 July 1952 in the Westphalian town of Siegen. Studies violin at the Cologne Conservatory with Franzjosef Maier, leader of the period-instrument ensemble Collegium Aureum, then with Saschko Gawriloff at the Folkwangschule in Essen, followed by an extensive course with Eduard Melkus and several years under the guidance of Marie Leonhardt. Goebel also lays the foundation of his vast knowledge of early music through several years of studying musicology at Cologne University.
Goebel and fellow students from the Cologne Conservatory found Musica Antiqua Köln, initially devoted to the performance of Baroque chamber and sacred music.
First Archiv Produktion/Deutsche Grammophon recording by Musica Antiqua Köln: concertos for recorder and strings by Mancini, Sarri, Barbella, and Valentine (selections reissued on Archiv Blue 471 729-2).
Musica Antiqua Köln and Reinhard Goebel become exclusive artists of Archiv Produktion/Deutsche Grammophon.
Recordings this year include Le Parnasse français (works by Marais, Rebel, and François Couperin), an LP of late chamber music by Leclair and one of Early Italian Violin Music (Giovanni Gabrieli, Rossi, Fontana, Marini, Farina, and Buonamente).
The ensemble makes its international breakthrough in a triumphant début at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall and five concerts at the Holland Festival.
This year they record chamber concertos by Telemann, Bach's Musical Offering and two cantatas by Clérambault (with soprano Rachel Yakar).
MAK makes the first of many international tours which in the coming decades will regularly take the ensemble to North and South America, Australia, and the Far East.
The ensemble is named "Artist of the Year" by the Deutsche Phonoakademie.
On the occasion of their tenth anniversary, Goebel augments the ensemble, thus enabling them to perform orchestral music more frequently - both in the concert hall and in the recording studio.
Recording projects: Couperin's Les Nations and the completion of a 7-LP set of chamber music by J. S. Bach, begun in 1981, including the sonatas with harpsichord accompaniment for violin, for viola da gamba, and for flute.
Releases include Telemann's Water Music and 3 Concertos and Bach's Art of Fugue.
MAK tours China in the "Bach Year".
This year's recording projects include Alt-Bachisches Archiv - cantatas by members of the Bach family), reissued in 2003 on Archiv Blue 474 552-2 - and the beginning of Musica Antiqua Köln's complete set of the Brandenburg Concertos by J. S. Bach.
Recording of Brandenburg Concertos(and Triple Concerto BWV 1044) completed this year along with Biber's Mensa sonora.
Released this year, their recording of Telemann's Musique de table wins the CD Compact Award (Barcelona) in 1990.
Musica Antiqua Köln's recording of Dresden Concerti, a 2-CD set of concertos by the previously neglected Baroque composer Johann David Heinichen, becomes an overwhelming international success, winning five major awards in 1993 and 1994: Gramophone Award, Prix Caecilia (Brussels), Echo AwardCD Compact Award, and Jahrespreis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik.
In the Archiv studio: Rebel's suite Les Élémens and Gluck's ballet Alessandro (Choc de l'Année, 1995).
Releases include their recording of Marian cantatas and arias by Handel (with mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter), which receives a CD Compact Award in the "Baroque Vocal" category, and, as a follow-up to the Heinichen set, a disc of overtures by Veracini and one of concertos by Heinichen, Dieupart, Fasch, Pisendel, Quantz, and Veracini, all works composed for the famous Dresden court orchestra.
Reinhard Goebel is honoured by the German state of Nordrhein-Westphalia for his "exemplary performances with Musica Antiqua Köln of both familiar and unknown music of the 17th and 18th centuries" and for the "exciting new findings that have resulted from his research into music of the Baroque, Rococo and Early Classical eras".
Releases this year include recordings of Salve Regina (works by Johann Adolf Hasse, with soprano Barbara Bonney and mezzo-soprano Bernarda Fink).
In the studio for Archiv: Musica Baltica - 17th-century chamber music by Luetkeman, Albrici, Vierdanck, Baltzar, Nicolaus Hasse, Kirchoff, Becker, Fischer, and Meder.
Released this year, Lamenti - works by Monteverdi, Bertali, Legrenzi, Vivaldi, Purcell, and Piccinini, with Anne Sofie von Otter and the grandiose Missa Salisburgensis recording, a joint venture with Paul McCreesh, which wins the 1999 Echo Award.
MAK records the soundtrack to the theatrical film Le Roi danse, directed by the Belgian Gérard Corbiau, famed for his film Farinelli. The soundtrack album, featuring the music of Lully, is released in 2000 and granted the Echo Award in 2001.
Other recordings this year: string concertos by Telemann and cantatas by J. S. Bach including the Wedding Cantata BWV 202 and "Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen", with soprano Christine Schäfer.
In the studio for Archiv: Bachiana, recently rediscovered music by older members of the Bach family (released in 2001).
Reinhard Goebel is awarded the Telemann Prize of the composer's native city of Magdeburg.
Release of another volume of Bachiana to follow up the critically acclaimed first album: this time double concertos by sons of J. S. Bach.
"Sinfonia spirituosa" - the follow-up to the highly successful disc of string concertos by Telemann, with Jaap ter Linden, viola da gamba, released this year, wins the Echo Award.
As Musica Antiqua Köln celebrates the 30th anniversary of its founding and the 25th anniversary of MAK and Reinhard Goebel's collaboration with Archiv Produktion, the artists are seen and heard throughout Europe and America.
Joined by Anne Sofie von Otter, they open the year with a wildly acclaimed Lamenti tour, starting in Rotterdam, proceeding to Basle, Zürich, Metz, Lyon, and Bordeaux and finishing with a thunderously applauded concert at Paris's Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. January closes with an appearance in the foyer of Cologne's opera house to mark the beginning of the Carnival season. From March to June, they give concerts throughout Germany. July takes them to the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and Bregenz for works by Biber, Bach, Telemann, and Vivaldi. Pachelbel and His Contemporaries are featured in concerts in Germany in August and early September. Later in the month they begin a South American tour that includes performances of German Chamber Music in Rio de Janeiro, São Caetano, Belo Horizonte, Montevideo, Punta del Este, and São Paulo and of Bach's Art of Fugue in Buenos Aires, São Paulo, and Santiago. October and November appearances include Pachelbel and His Contem-poraries at the Flanders Festival followed by a series of performances
of Biber's Harmonia artificiosa-ariosa in several German cities. An American tour in the second half of November features performances
of Pergolesi's Stabat Mater (with soprano Nancy Argenta and contralto Nathalie Stutzmann) in Kansas City, Boston, Princeton, New York, Berkeley, and Los Angeles. Back in Germany, the year will close for MAK with appearances in Lausanne and Dresden.
Release of their Charpentier album.
Planned releases include recordings of a third volume of Bachiana, on this occasion featuring arias, cantatas, and scenes by the Bach family, with mezzo-soprano Magdalena Koená, and an album of Biber's Harmonia artificiosa-ariosa. Their next recordings will feature works by Telemann.