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Review by Ken Meltzer

JOHANN KRIEGER Sechs musicalische Partien. Fantasia è Partita in C, Preludio in d. Menuets: in G; in a. Bourée: in G; in a. Gavotte in G. Anmuthige Clavier-Übung: Fantasia in d; Praeludium in g; Praeludium in e; Passacaglia in d Tatjana Vorobjova (hpd) MDG 921 2204 (SACD: 77:06)

A disc entitled Sechs Musicalische Partien (MDG) surveys keyboard works by the German composer Johann Krieger (1652–1735). Krieger, the younger brother of composer Johann Philipp Krieger (1649–1725), held musical posts throughout Germany (including Greiz and Eisenberg) before moving to Zittau in 1682. There, Johann Krieger served as director of choral music and organist at St. Johannis until his death more than a half century later. Krieger published two major collections of keyboard music. The first, Sechs musicalische Partien (1697) includes six multi-movement partitas (comprising various dance movements), as well as several independent works Krieger categorized as Menuetten/Buréen & Gavotten. The Anmuthige Clavier-Übung (1699), dedicated to several prominent residents of Zittau, includes preludes, ricercares, fugues, toccatas, a fantasy, and a chaconne. The MDG release presents all six of the partitas, complemented by various independent works. Krieger was celebrated both as a composer and instrumentalist. In the Mar/Apr 2021 issue of Fanfare (44:4), my colleague James A. Altena reviewed a Brilliant Classics (95873) two-disc release of Johann Krieger works, performed on the harpsichord and organ by Alejandro Casal. In that review, Altena quotes German composer Johann Mattheson, who praises Johann Krieger’s brilliance in the writing of double fugues: “Of the old excellent masters, I know of no one who surpasses the Zittau Kappellmeister.” Both Bach and Handel admired Krieger’s writing for the keyboard, which displays a mastery not only of contrapuntal writing, but also explores the coloristic potential of the keyboard instruments of his time. Those attributes are fully realized in harpsichordist Tatjana Vorobjova’s superb performances. Vorobjova plays Krieger’s music with stunning precision and clarity, all the while infusing the music with compelling tonal variety, and a winning ebb and flow in phrasing. And Vorobjova’s sterling artistry is captured in gorgeous, demonstration-quality sound that is both tonally rich and admirably detailed. Matthias Schneider’s liner notes provide helpful background on Krieger’s life and music, as well as the sequence of works on the recording. A marvelous disc. Ken Meltzer

 

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