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Ecco la musica is a period instrumental and vocal group entirely new to me. On the strength of this CD we shall be hearing more of them in coming years. Their programme presents five world premiere recordings of choral cantatas by Johann Samuel Welter (1650-1720), a German composer from the generation immediately before Bach and Handel, who was largely based in his native Schwäbisch Hall. Put simply, he spans the bridge between Schütz and Bach: 17th-century instrumental sonorities (viola da gambas, cornets and trombones) combine with more progressive harmonic writing. This CD intersperses Welter’s short cantatas with instrumental sonatas by Hainlein (reminiscent of Gabrieli), Nicolai, Schmelzer and Bertali drawn from the Langenburg music inventory. It makes for a satisfying sequence. With only one voice to a part, textures are transparent but never lightweight. If there’s a slight same-iness to the musical diet, that’s not the fault of Ecco la musica, who acquit themselves admirably. Excellent supporting documentation only enhances one’s pleasure.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica

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