The name of violinist and conductor Evaristo Felice Dall'Abaco does not necessarily spring to one's lips when significant figures of the late Baroque period are under consideration. To summarize, he was a contemporary of Antonio Vivaldi and the Veronese-born master of music attached to the court of Maximilian II Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria. As such, Dall'Abaco spent the first 11 years of his tenure in exile with the Elector in the Netherlands, and later, in France.
Continuing their exploration of Bach’s vocal music, Bach Collegium Japan and Masaaki Suzuki have now reached the fifth volume of secular cantatas, with the previous instalment being ‘urgently recommended’ by the reviewer in Fanfare, and its contents described as ‘unusually colourful and vivid performances, even by the standards so far set by Suzuki’s Collegium Japan’ (International Record Review). Both cantatas on the present disc were first performed in 1733 by Bach and his Collegium Musicum at public concerts in Leipzig.
Saxony's Court Orchestra was for many years the working sphere of influential composers known far beyond her borders. Maria Antonia Walpurgis, wife of Friedrich Christian, Elector of Saxony was especially active during the years of her regency with generous and skillful sponsoring of the arts and artists. Works by Ferrandini, her teacher for composition, harpsichord and singing, or Porpora (teacher of Carlo Broschi, the castrato better known as Farinelli), whom she engaged as a second singing teacher at the Dresden Court, convey a lively impression of those times.
Agostino Steffani (1654-1728) was the most important composer ever to be appointed by the Duchy of Hannover. At the end of the 17th century this noble family embarked on a cultural offensive with the objective of having Duke Ernst August become a prince elector. To this end, the Welph dynasty obtained the services of Steffani, a master choice in itself as his works are still performed to this day in the majestic gardens of Princess Caroline of Monaco and her husband, the current Ernst August of Hannover.
As mentioned in his autobiographies, Telemann's encounters with Eastern European gypsy music influenced his own compositions. The young composer must have been enthralled by the wonderful inventiveness of this music, as typified in this recording with the last movements of the Caprice Symphony and the Concerto in e minor for recorder and flute.
Although Bach's sacred cantatas span a huge expressive range and display a striking stylistic diversity, they were all composed for performance during a church service. In the case of the secular cantatas, on the other hand, their respective purpose is as varied as their subject matter and emotional content. They were usually commissions intended for occasions such as weddings, funerals and birthdays. As such they were sometimes performed in churches, and some of them have religious texts, but as the works gathered here exemplify, they were not related to the particular theme of the church service on a certain day.