• Benedikt Anton Aufschnaiter

    DULCIS FIDIUM HARMONIA: symphoniis ecclesiasticis concinnata - opus 4 M. DCC. III

    Ars Antiqua Austria, Gunar Letzbor

    DULCIS FIDIUM HARMONIA: symphoniis ecclesiasticis concinnata - opus 4 M. DCC. III 1 cd A 313
    Arcana

Nur in den folgenden Ländern erhältlich: USA, Europa und im Mittelmeerraum.

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UNSUSPECTED TREASURES OF THE AUTRIAN BAROQUE

The listener of the present recording surely  knows Kitzbühel as one of the most famous  mountain resorts in Austria and site of international  ski competitions. But should you be  struck by a sudden urge to consult the telephone  directory, you would doubtless be surprised  to find several listings for the patronymic  Aufschnaiter. I like to think that they are, across  the centuries, related to the young Benedikt  Anton Aufschnaiter, who was baptised in this  village on 21 February 1665. After studies in  Vienna, he would become Georg Muffat’s successor  in service to the prince-bishop of Passau,  as Kapellmeister to the court and cathedral. The  relative isolation of the villages of the high  mountains, especially in the past, justifies such  a hypothesis. 

There has long been uncertainty regarding the  Germanic precursors of Bach’s violin music.  There as elsewhere, the Italian influence is undeniable,  but it was only at a relatively recent  date that the importance of the vast Austrian  movement has been taken into consideration.  This developed in the latter half of the 17th  century and at the dawn of the 18th, with Biber  now being its best-known but not the sole representative.  Admittedly, the masters of this  proto-Vienna school were equally under the  sway of Italy’s ascendancy, and some were even  pure Italians living in Vienna in service to the  court or princes. But they developed a fantasy  and virtuosity within the framework of organically  structured forms that are thoroughly  exceptional and to be found nowhere else, the  sign of an original culture and an involvement  well rooted in the historical and local fabric.  It is this highly particular character that, at the  end of the 19th century, led Austrian musicologists  to publish the Denkmäler der Tonkunst in  Österreich in order to make known the incomparable  beauties of this heritage. 

Curiously, the attention of the Denkmäler was  not drawn to Aufschnaiter, and it would be  necessary to wait until the early 1980s before  an impassioned musicologist from Passau undertook  research that would lead to the discovery  – in no way completed – of more than 300  compositions. The least forewarned listener  will be astounded by the richness and emotional  density of the eight Sonatas that make up  the DULCIS FIDIUMHARMONIA. Not for a minute  does one’s attention stray as this music in constant  renewal unfolds. One wonders about the  kind of universe in which the composer might  live and develop his art and which would be  conducive to conceiving such a masterpiece. 

If ever there was an artist predestined to reveal  such music, it is indeed GUNAR LETZBOR, the  violinist having created and directing his ARS  ANTIQUA AUSTRIA in order to restore ‘the Austrian  sound’ to the Baroque era. Henceforth  devoted to the defence of causes that are atypical  yet fascinating, here this ensemble forms  a sort of consort combining the power of the  orchestra with the intimacy of chamber music.  And the most unsuspecting listener will be  able to perceive instinctively that this is a discovery  of the first order. 

Will he answer the question asked by GUNAR  LETZBOR in concluding his enthusiastic presentation  : Might Aufschnaiter be a Catholic  Bach ?

MICHEL BERNSTEIN  Translated by John Tyler Tuttle