Le Concert Brisé Offer Mellow Performances of Schmelzer Sonatas

There’s something about the sound of a cornett I find very soothing. It’s even mellower than the flugelhorn. And when played by William Dongois, it can sound as smooth as melted caramel. And, in this case, that’s all to the good.

This release features a selection of works by Johann Heinrich Schmelzer. Schmelzer (c.1623-1680) was a contemporary of Froberger and enjoyed considerable success during his lifetime. He provides a link between the Venetian style of the 1600s and what would become the Northern German style of Bach.

By some accounts, Schmelzer began his career as a cornettist, then transitioned to the violin. The sonatas on this release could be performed by either instrument in the solo role. Dongois and Le Concert Brisé mostly choose the cornette. It’s a wise choice for the sacred works, such as the Sonata seconda. The combination of cornette and organ is a warm blend that invites spiritual contemplation.

The organ is voiced in the Italian style, with mean-tone temperament. It gives the chords an added richness.

Although Schmelzer wrote for the two interchangeably, there is a definite change in character when the violin takes center stage. Structurally, Sonata No. 5 is similar to the Sonata Seconda. But the violin commands more of the listener’s immediate attention. The heavily ornamented melodies seem to flow like a mountain stream when played by the cornette. With the violin, they seem rather busy.

That’s no fault of the performer. Alice Julien-Laferrière plays with a well-rounded tone, even in the upper register. Her articulation is clean and accurate.

Overall, this is an excellent collection of music by an important — albeit now relatively obscure — composer.

Johann Heinrich Schmelzer: Sonatas
Le Concert Brisé; William Dongois, cornett and conductor

More Recent Posts

  • Harry Partch Sonata Dementia – More, Please

    Tags: , , , ,

    I’ve always loved the music of Harry Partch. These new recordings by Bridge Records do a tremendous service to the world of music. Hearing the Partch ensemble perform with copies of Partch’s original hand-made instruments. That’s important because it means these instruments can really be played, not handled like irreplaceable museum pieces. And the Partch […]

  • Eli Cook at Offbeat Roadhouse, Aug 30

    Tags: , , , ,

    Blues man Eli Cook will pull into Offbeat Roadhouse on Friday night, August 30, from 8-9 for an acoustic concert which will also be broadcast on WTJU. Sure you could listen on the radio (91.1 FM) or on-line, and even video stream it, but concerts always sound better with you as part of the studio audience. Offbeat Roadhouse takes place each Friday […]

  • Atlantic Weekly closes out its Charlottesville City Market season, Aug 24

    Tags: , , ,

    Coming up this Saturday morning, August 24, from 8 til noon, Atlantic Weekly returns to close out its season at Charlottesville City Market.  Besides the usual great music and conversation with some of the local vendors,  there will be live music from The Weedeaters! While you can of course just listen on WTJU as usual, come on out and […]

  • Carl Czerny Piano Trios Brilliantly Entertaining

    Tags: , , , , , , ,

    Five piano trio receive their world recording premiers with this release. In a sense, it’s not that big a deal. Carl Czerny wrote over 1,000 works, over 800 of them published. There are still many, many Czerny works awaiting their first recording. The trios presented here are certainly worthy of attention. The 1830 Deux Trios […]

  • New Jazz Adds – 8/20/2019

    New Jazz Adds – 8/20/2019 Erik Applegate & Time Child – Woodstock! (Artist Alliance): “On their new album WOODSTOCK!, bassist/composer Erik Applegate and TimeChild celebrate the music and spirit of the watershed festival which sees its 50th Anniversary this year. A mix of original songs and reinterpretations of pieces performed that seminal weekend, the band […]

  • New Blues News – 8/20/2019

    New Blues News – 8/20/2019 Arthur Adams – Here to make you Feel Good (Cleopatra Blues): This appears to be Arthur Adams ninth release. He has a smooth approach which would best qualify as blue soul. He has a mellow voice and creates a pleasant sound throughout. He wrote or co-wrote each song. Backing musicians […]