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SIG 041
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SIG 041

Charivari Agrèable - Modus Phantasticus

The Classical Shop
release date: July 2007

Originally recorded in 2007


Charivari Agréable


St Martins Church, East Woodhay, Berkshire

21-23 Apr 2003


Adrian Hunter


Adrian Hunter

Record Label


Early Music


Total Time - 73:49
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Erbarm dich mein, O Herre Gott, BWV 721

  arr. S. Heinrich; b, e, g, h  

In Dir ist Freude, BWV 615

  arr. K-M. Ng; b, e, g, h, j, l  



Feritevi, ferite, SWV 9,

  arr. K-M Ng; b, e, g, h, i, m  


(1648-? 1699)

Suite in D major from Stricturae Viola di Gambicae (1677)

4 Adagio 1:25
5 (Allegro) 0:58
6 Sarabande & Double 3:58
7 Gigue 1:07
  c, f, g, h, k, m  


fl. late 17th c.)

Sonata in B flat major for viola da gamba & b.c.;

  c, i, m  



Ciaccona in F minor




Concerto for four violins TWV 40:204

10 Grave 1:19
11 Allegro 2:04
12 Adagio 1:12
13 Spitituoso 2:36
  c, f, g, h  



Paÿsan en Rondeau

  d, i, l  



Sonata à 2 in E minor

  Sonata - Aria - Allegro - Aria - Adagio; c, f, m  



Chaconne in G major




Das alte Jahr vergangen ist, BWV 614

  arr. S. Heinrich; b, e, g, h  



Sonata op. 2/4 in A minor

  arrangement from GB-Ob MS Mus. Sch. D.249  
  Adagio - (Canzona allegro) - Adagio - Grave - (Arial) - Presto - (Presto); c, g, h, i, l  



Ciaconna in G major

  arr. K-M Ng; a, e, g, h, i, m  



Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier, BWV 634/706

  arr. S. Heinrich; b, e, g, h, j, l  

Signum Records is delighted to release charivari agréable’s ninth CD on the Signum label.

Modus Phantasticus presents a unique collection of German viol music, transcribed and arranged in charivari’s individual and historically-informed manner.

Germany was never blessed with the same solo viol traditions that flourished in England and France. The viol took a back seat in favour of the keyboard and the violin which provided a vehicle for the elaborate technical display found in "stylus phantasticus" music.

However the viol came into to its own within a consort of instruments, gaining a reputation for providing special effects alluding to mortality and the supernatural. The ability of the viol to enrich the texture and enhance sonority of vocal and sacred music meant that it could often dominate the scoring in music of this type.

The profile of the viol in Germany was raised considerably with the arrival, during the late 16th century and the first half of the 17th century, of elite violists from England. This disc follows the development of German viol repertoire and its English influences. The pieces are chosen for their beauty, their uniqueness or their suitability for charivari agréable’s speciality – wonderfully inventive arrangements and transcriptions.

"The Signum Records disc includes a medley of German baroque pieces for a consort of viols with basso continuo. A truly original idea because the viol wasn’t as popular in Germany as it was in England and France. But then Charivari Agreable is an ensemble renowned for its creative approach to repertoire and likes to take all kinds of poetic licence. The idea of ’Modus Phantasticus’, which originally meant a certain style in German music of the first half of the 17th century, has been extended to ’tabulation’ or, in other words, re-arrangement. The disc contains, apart from the usual ’hit’ pieces such as J S Bach’s chorales, Telemann’s concerto for 4 violins, a couple of pieces for keyboard (played by Kah-Ming Ng on the harpsichord), Bohm’s Chaconny and Pachelbel’s Ciaccony in f minor, pieces written by less known composers such as David Funck, August Kuhnel, Ernst Christian Hesse, Johannes Schenck and David Adam Baudringer.

This is an exceptionally beautiful compilation, with striking atmosphere and perfectly balanced performance. Some pieces are literally difficult to tear oneself away from, a delicious Paysanen Rondeau in particular. I can’t recommend it highly enough."      *****

Musyca 21 (Polish Journal) - July 2006

"Don¹t let the rather academic title Modus Phantasticus put you off. The new CD from the Oxford group Charivari Agréable contains much that is far from being dry as dust.

Charivari bases itself on the many members of the viol family, ranging from the treble to the seven-stringed bass viol, plus harpsichord, organ, lute, guitar and theorbo. The three permanent members of the group, Susanne Heinrich, Kah-Ming Ng, and Lynda Sayce, are here augmented by Reiko Ichise, Asako Morikawa, and Susanna Pell.

Arrangements of music by J.S. Bach top and tail the disc, with several of Bach¹s contemporaries providing the meat in the sandwich. There are well known names: Pachelbel contributes a most attractive Ciaccona for solo harpsichord. But how much do you know of Funck, Fux and Schenck?

Talking to Charivari leader Kah-Ming Ng for The Oxford Times a couple of months ago, his enthusiasm for unusual programme building shone through. He has a ball here - and is it entirely coincidental that two of the most invigorating pieces are by composers (Hesse and Funck) who, the comprehensive sleeve notes tell us, led distinctly colourful private lives?

Admittedly Kah-Ming slightly shoots himself in the foot by beginning with Bach¹s Erbarm dich mein (BWV 721), thereby demonstrating in five seconds flat why Johann Sebastian stood head and shoulders above all around him, but Charivari¹s sheer musicality makes a great case for the other many and varied tracks on this CD."

Giles Woodforde

The Oxford Times - 26 September 2003

"Charivari Agréable and guests, inspired by the German tradition of transcription, offer an engaging musical experience, their programme combining modern and period arrangements with original instruments.

The group¹s core members, Susanne Heinrich and Lynda Sayce, accompanied by Kah-Ming Ng, play Baudringer’s Sonata in B flat major with style, expression and virtuosity.  Susanna Pell partners Heinrich and Ng in Kühnel’s E minor Sonata à deux, revelling in its two aria sections and central Adagio, while the whole company masters the varied styles and techniques of Funck¹s Stricturae viola di gambicae (1677), particularly in the Sarabande’s variations and the Gigue. Ng’s account of Pachelbel¹s F-minor Ciaconna radiates empathy with the idiom.

The solitary period arrangement, an anonymous transcription of Schenck’s Viol Sonata op. 2 no. 4, is convincingly conveyed Š Heinrich’s stylish treble sound stands out in her four-viol arrangement of Bach¹s chorale prelude  "Erbarm dich" BWV721 and Telemann’s Concerto in A major for four violins, though transcribed down a tone for viols, still displays its composer’s colourful sonorities and inventive musical discourse in this accomplished reading. Accounts of effective arrangements of Fux’s Ciaconna in G major and various pieces from Bach’s Orgelbüchlein complete this fascinating programme.

The recorded sound has commendable presence, clarity of detail and bloom, and the overall balance is exemplary."

Robin Stowell

The Strad - December 2003

"At the very beginning of the early instrument revival, before the First World War, it was not uncommon for viols to be used in contexts that would now seem ludicrously inappropriate ­ accompanying a harpsichord in a Mozart piano concerto, for example. But though that was undoubtedly going too far, this remarkably interesting and attractive selection of 17th- and 18th-century pieces, not all of which were originally intended for viols, proves that the instrument has real expressive powers and can make an excellent showing in music far removed from the traditional consort repertoire.

These expressive qualities are heard to best advantage in arrangements of four Bach chorale preludes, of which Erbarm dich mein is particularly beautiful, but even the transcription of Telemann’s four-violin concerto for viols da gamba comes over as perfectly convincing, once the listener’s initial surprise wears off. Charivari Agréable’s playing is of the highest order both in these ensemble pieces and in the solos, including a charming rustic rondo by Ernst Christian Hesse, which complete this delightful programme."

Elizabeth Roche

The Daily Telegraph - 6 December 2003

"Unlike England or France, Germany never established a solo viol tradition, relying rather on the consort style that flourished on the other side of the Rhine, a style dominated by a delight in evocations of death, the hereafter and the supernatural.

This Stylus or Modus Phantasticus was to last all the way down to the eighteenth century (or nearly), forming a full-blown repertoire based on transcriptions of vocal or instrumental pieces for a consort of viols (with the Renaissance madrigal serving as its archetype).

In broaching this sphere of the strange, the intuitions of Charivari Agréable are always captivating for the listener. Among others, Susanne Heinrich brings her versatile talents into play, ranging from the pardessus de viole to the French 7-string bass viol. From the outset she takes centre stage (as regards affects and atmosphere) in the recording, with its arrangement of the Bach chorale Erbarm dich mein, O Herre Gott BWV 721, conjuring up a striking landscape of the soul, a religious, funereal vision that plunges us into the mystery of sound and the secret of things. And her partners are on a par with her, particularly Kah-Ming Ng, an outstanding strategist on the harpsichord and the organ (superb reading of the chaconnes by Pachelbel and Böhm), and a sagacious continuo player in several pieces. Enough said, this journey into the Fantastic, far from being a chimera, is a perfectly accomplished recording in terms of its results, one in which the images that fire our imagination are underpinned everywhere by unflagging expertise."

Roger Tellart

Goldberg Magazine - February 2004

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