With this first project for Zig-Zag Territories, the musicians of the Canadian ensemble Masques under the direction of the harpsichordist Olivier Fortin demonstrate their passion for the music of the Austrian Baroque composer Johann Heinrich Schmelzer.
Like most of his contemporaries (Biber, Walther, Sances), Schmelzer gives music a dual purpose: ‘Music is a pleasure for the saints and for men; it is an act of devotion, but also a symbol of human virtue.’ His collection Sacro-profanus concentus musicus is a masterly illustration of this credo. Ensemble Masques – formed of a core of six instrumentalists specialising in Baroque music – offers us sonatas for five and six instruments from this collection, alternating with character pieces like Die Fechtschule (an evocation of battle), Die Polnische Sackpfeiffe, and the famous Lamento sopra il morte Ferdinandi III. This varied programme highlights the diversity and the Italian inspiration of Schmelzer’s music.
"... These young artists play beautifully. Their tone is crisp, harmonious, and stylishly ornamental..."
Peter Loewen - American Record Guide - March/April 2014
"...These outstanding performances are by turns beguiling and entertaining."
David Vickers - Gramophone magazine - March 2014