ACRONYM: Wunderkammer

About

In seventeenth-century Germany, a Wunderkammer (typically translated as “Cabinet of Curiosities”) was a type of private museum collection in the home of an aristocrat. Always in search of the most fascinating music from this era, ACRONYM has unearthed a large number of previously unrecorded manuscript sonatas written by long-forgotten composers.

Audio

# Audio Title/Composer(s) Performer(s) Time
Total Time 66:44
01Sonata a8 in A Minor
Sonata a8 in A Minor
5:04
02Sonata a6 in C Major
Sonata a6 in C Major
4:57
03Sonata a4 in F Major
Sonata a4 in F Major
10:17
04Sonata a3 in E Minor
Sonata a3 in E Minor
8:01
05Sonata a2 in A Minor
Sonata a2 in A Minor
7:44
06Sonata a2 “La Eminenza” in E Minor
Sonata a2 “La Eminenza” in E Minor
9:46
07Sonata a5 in F Major
Sonata a5 in F Major
5:16
08Sonata a7 in A Minor
Sonata a7 in A Minor
3:34
09Sonata a8 in A Minor
Sonata a8 in A Minor
4:45
10Sonata a8 in C Major
Sonata a8 in C Major
7:20

In seventeenth-century Germany, a Wunderkammer (typically translated as “Cabinet of Curiosities”) was a type of private museum collection in the home of an aristocrat. Always in search of the most fascinating music from this era, ACRONYM has unearthed a large number of previously unrecorded manuscript sonatas written by long-forgotten composers. Some of these pieces contain harmonic eccentricities, rhythmic or metric irregularities, or structural curiosities. This disc includes ten such works, ACRONYM's own musical Wunderkammer. The composers are Samuel Capricornus, Adam Drese, Johann Philipp Krieger, Andreas Oswald, Antonio Bertali, Daniel Eberlin, Philipp Jakob Rittler, Georg Piscator, Alessandro Poglietti, and Clemens Thieme.

ACRONYM (A Cabinet of Rather Odd and Nutty Young Musicians) is dedicated to giving modern premieres of the wild instrumental music of the seventeenth century. The ensemble formed in 2012 to create the first recording of the “Alphabet Sonatas” of Johann Pezel. ACRONYM’s next disc, sonatas by Antonio Bertali, was released in 2014 to critical acclaim; Alex Ross selected it as a CD Pick, and Early Music America Magazine wrote “the idiomatic performances and spacious recording by these young musicians are absolutely first rate. This is a disc … belonging in everyone’s collection.” ACRONYM released a third album, the first recordings of Giovanni Valentini’s instrumental works, in 2015, and Gramophone wrote that the recording is “played with expertise, enthusiasm and an almost tactile sense of timbre.” Upcoming recordings include the modern premiere of Valentini’s 1616 book of madrigals with the vocal ensemble Les Canards Chantants later in 2016, and a disc featuring the music of Johann Rosenmüller with baritone Jesse Blumberg in early 2017.

ACRONYM

Baroque string ensemble ACRONYM is dedicated to giving modern premieres of the wild instrumental music of the seventeenth century. The group formed in 2012 to create the first recording of the "Alphabet Sonatas" of Johann Pezel. ACRONYM's following disc, sonatas by Antonio Bertali, was released in 2014 to critical acclaim; Alex Ross selected it as a CD pick, and Early Music America Magazine wrote "the idiomatic performances and spacious recording by these young musicians are absolutely first rate. This is a disc ... belonging in everyone's collection." In 2015 ACRONYM released a third album—the first recordings of Giovanni Valentini's instrumental works—which was praised in Gramophone for being "played with expertise, enthusiasm, and an almost tactile sense of timbre." In 2016 ACRONYM released its fourth album: Wunderkammer. Upcoming projects include the first recording of Samuel Capricornus's monumental "Jubilus Bernhardi" with the Bach Choir of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.


Reviews

American Record Guide, September/October 2016

This program of ten sonatas, for ensembles ranging in size from two to eight instruments, offers a fine representation of the state of the art in 17th-Century Germany. The organizing principle for the recording appears to have been twofold: to expose the inherent rhythmic and harmonic eccentricities and structural curiosities of the repertory, and to compare the works of canonic composers with ones off the beaten path. For example, the sonatas of Bertali and Krieger are relatively well known, but this is the first recording of music by Georg Piscator (early 17th Century) and Daniel Eberlin (1647-c. 1715). Between these extremes we have the works of Andreas Oswald, Adam Drese, Philipp Jakob Rittler, Alessandro Poglietti, Clemens Thieme, and Samuel Friedrich Capricornus.

The repertory is taken from the four most important collections of the period: the Partitenbuch of Jacob Ludwig (1623-98); the Liechtenstein Music Collection of Karl II von Liechtenstein-Kastelkorn (1623-95); the Rost Codex, copied by Franz Rost (c. 1640-88); and the huge Düben Collection of 2300 manuscripts gathered by Gustav Düben the Elder (1628-90). Acronym’s stirring performances of these sonatas on string instruments gives them an overall homogenous character, yet Kivie Cahn- Lipman notes that scribes anticipated many other possible combinations of string, reed, and brass instruments.

Each sonata is remarkable in its own way. The eight-part Sonata in A minor by Capricornus exhibits a style similar to Johann Rosenmüller, the way he quickly shifts from rich sonorities to quick contrapuntal passages. Compare, for example, the recordings by the Johann Rosenmüller Ensemble (Christophorus 77333; J/A 2011) and Ensemble Masques (ATMA 2660; S/O 2013). Perhaps the most curious sonata is the five-part Sonata in F by Philipp Jakob Rittler, which includes nearly 40 tempo changes in the span of 90 measures. Piscator’s seven-part Sonata in A minor is also rather appealing for its stunning harmonic curiosities and sudden dynamic changes.

---Peter Loewen

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