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Agave Baroque - Queen of Heaven
©2015 & Recorded - Produced by
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Agave Baroque - Friends of Ferdinand
©2013 & Recorded - Produced by
Imagine sitting in church listening to very serious music played on an organ or sung by a choir, when suddenly the sound of a country fiddler or wailing bagpipe wafts into the sacred space. For just a moment, your attention is grabbed by this lively ruckus before returning to the more austere church music. Soon, the two are competing for attention, and perhaps the fiddle band from outside even enters the church and joins in with the church music, or maybe the church organist starts imitating the virtuosic strains wafting in from outside. Eventually, a profound clash of activity or harmony occurs, and they all join up in an epic romp. This fantastical conception, or something like it, was known as stilus fantasticus—or, as Schmelzer called his collection dedicated to the style, Sacro profanus concentus musicus fidium. The unlikely marriage of these disparate sound worlds is a distinctive feature of music by the so-called “Transalpine” composers Antonio Bertali, Johann Heinrich Schmelzer, and many of their contemporaries working in Vienna, Salzburg, and their associated outlying courts. The careers of these two great composer-violinists span nearly five decades of service to the Viennese court, including the reigns of three of the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperors—Ferdinand II, Ferdinand III, and Leopold I, all of whom were themselves music lovers, amateur composers, and collaborators. The music associated with both Kaiser Ferdinands and Leopold—written and performed by a hand-picked array of professional musical personalities—is characterized by a melting pot of disparate styles; some new, some old, and all at once groundbreaking, sublime, unique, and vibrant.
"[B]rilliant... profound playing..."
"This recording immediately engages the listener with a sprightly Chiacona by Bertali, establishing Agave Baroque as an energized, free-spirited group from the start."
"This young group of Californian virtuosi have created a strong future reference for this little known repertoire, and a great follow-up to their widely acclaimed premiere recording Cold Genius..."
— Early Music America
Friends of Ferdinand
VGo Recordings VG1021
The title refers to Ferdinand I and II, Hapsburg Holy Roman Emperors, and five composers at the courts of Vienna and Salzburg, two of them well-known (Johann Heinrich Schmelzer and Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber) and three of them now in total eclipse (Antonio Bertali, Marco Antonio Ferro, and Giovanni Battista Granata).
The marriage of serious liturgical music and lively profane court music was known as stylus fantasticus--or as Schmelzer called his collection dedicated to the style, Sacro-profanus concentus musicus fidium. Agave Baroque, led by the brilliant violinist Aaron Westman, makes an effulgent case for this early- to mid-17th-century music. This recording immediately engages the listener with a sprightly Chiacona by Bertali, establishing Agave Baroque as an energized, free-spirited group from the start. Schmelzer and Bertali were violin virtuosi, and the repertoire is, to quote the CD notes, "...characterized by a melting pot of disparate styles, some new, some old, and all at once groundbreaking, sublime, unique, and vibrant." Harpsichord (JungHae Kim), viola da gamba (Shirley Hunt), and Baroque guitar (Kevin Cooper) round out the instruments on the disc, with Cooper mostly supporting the profound violin playing of Westman but also shining as a soloist in Granata's Sonata di Chitarra, e Violino con il suo Basso Continuo.
This young group of Californian virtuosi have created a strong future reference for this little-known repertoire and a great follow-up to their widely acclaimed premiere recording Cold Genius: The music of Henry Purcell and his contemporaries, released in 2012.
— Paul-James Dwyer
Commissioned by The Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles and premiered in January of 2010 in the Museum's Tula Tea Room, Agave Baroque's Cold Genius centers around the intensely engaging music of Henry Purcell and contemporaries from Restoration era England. Fantasia, sonata, song, and dramatic work by Purcell, plus two enchanting and rarely performed Harp Consorts by William Lawes, a ravishing suite by Matthew Locke, and two rustic and virtuosic arias by Nicola Matteis. Agave recorded this album in surround sound in the spectacular new Green Music Center with award winning producer/engineer David v.R. Bowles of Swineshead Productions, LLC. Released 6/10/2012.