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** 1/2 SCHMELZER "Unarum Fidium" John Holloway, violin; Aloysia Assenbaum and Lars Ulrik Mortensen, keyboards; ECM New Series

August 06, 2000|JOHN HENKEN

Johann Heinrich Schmelzer may have been the first Austrian Kapellmeister in Vienna in the 17th century, but he was not about to break with Italian compositional models. His six "Unarum Fidium" sonatas are generally forthright harmonically, with much reliance on ostinatos and ground basses. Schmelzer's expressive intentions are varied, but the works all sound much the same in Holloway's playing, abidingly sweet and lyrical even in the most rapid passage work. The disc's framing pieces, the great Chaconne by Antonio Bertali and a little anonymous sonata, display more obvious character. Holloway is tasteful and controlled throughout, with lively accompaniment from a distinctive combination of harpsichord and organ.

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