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"La festa musicale" ensemble conducted by Lajos Rovatkay - CD Review, January 30th, 2023

Gregor Joseph Werner is a baroque composer little known nowadays. He lived between1693-1766 and remained known as Joseph Haydn's predecessor as kapel-maestro at the Esterhazy court. The musician created an impressive number of oratorios, masses and symphonies, in an ingenious contrapuntal language, using various imitative techniques, progressive harmonies and canonical baroque microstructures.

We can discover the creations of this exceptional 8th century composer, listening - premiered on Radio România Muzical - to the latest album of the ensemble "La festa musicale", a baroque orchestra founded in 2014 in northern Germany, led from the position of concertmaster, by violinist Anne Marie Harer. The band frequently gives concerts at prestigious early music festivals, such as those in Halle, Schleswig-Holstein or Regensburg and has so far recorded discs with pre-classical pieces by the composers Johann Sebastian Bach, Francesco Venturini, Antonio Loti and Gregor Joseph Werner.

Werner's music aroused special interest for the members of the "La festa musicale" ensemble, who in 2021 recorded the first album in a series dedicated to this composer. And on November 11th, 2022, they released the second disc from this collection, at the conductor's desk being the renowned 90-year-old musician Lajos Rovatkay, acclaimed organ and harpsichord player, conductor and professor at the University of Hanover. In this city, in January 2022, the recordings for the album that includes the Requiem by Gregor Joseph Werner, as well as instrumental pieces by the same composer-overtures of the oratorios "Prodigal Son" and "Absalon", which have the structure of the sacred sonatas "da chiesa" from the late Viennese Baroque period. They open with a slow introduction followed by a fast-tempo run-out, maintaining a solemn atmosphere. The interpretation of the ensemble "La festa musicale" emphasizes these characteristics and impresses with expressiveness, spiritual depth and contrapuntal mastery.

The central piece of the album is the Requiem in C minor, a score written by Joseph Werner in 1763, whose emotional charge is revealed by the ensemble "La festa musicale", with sober and dramatic sounds. For the recording of this work, the choir group Voktett from Hanover participated, soloists-soprano Magdalene Harer, mezzo-soprano Anne Bierwirth, tenor Tobias Hunger and bass Markus Flaig.

Larisa Clempuș