The Musicaphon label marks the 300th anniversary of Karlsruhe with a special collection. Johann Melchior Molter was the city’s best-known composer, active in the first half of the 18th Century.
He’s credited as one of the first composers to write for the clarinet, developed around 1700. This release features some of Molter’s writings for the instrument, as well as concertos for other instruments.
Molter was a slightly younger contemporary of Georg Philipp Telemann, and his music is similar in style. Molter’s music has a courtly balance to it. The melodies are quite tuneful, but even when ornamented seem quite simple. There’s very little counterpoint in these works, either.
Rather, these concertos collectively stay pretty close to the Baroque concerto model. Ripieno strings with four-square patterns alternate with solo instruments playing freely meandering melodies. Yet within that form, there’s a great deal of variety.
The Gottesauer Ensemble — and especially their soloists — perform at a high level of proficiency. They produce beautiful sounds with none of the harshnesses that early instruments sometimes have. And although their tones are as polished as those of modern instruments, the sound is still distinctly 18th Century.
It’s especially true in the clarinet concertos. Lisa Shkyaver and Kyrill Rybakov play 18th Century instruments, which have a different timbre than modern instruments. Although the tone is edgier and a little hollower, these soloists make it work.
An impressive collection of music performed by some impressive musicians. A fitting tribute to both Johann Molter and Karlsruhe.
Johann Melchior Molter: Concerti
Stefanie Kessler, traverso; Georg Siebert, baroque oboe
Lisa Shklyaver, Kyrill Rybakov, clarinet
Kristian Nyquist, harpsichord; Dmitri Dichtiar, baroque cello
Gottesauer Ensemble, Dmitri Dichtiar, conductor