German baroque composer Johann Rosenmüller (1619–1684) spent the first half of his adult life in Leipzig. He spent the rest of his life in Italy after being imprisoned on charges of homosexuality, jailed, and subsequently running away to Venice. Considered by some scholars to be “the greatest master of German instrumental music before Bach and Handel” (musicologist Kurt Gudewill), the Sonate a 2, 3, 4 e 5 stromenti of 1682 are considered the crowning achievement of his instrumental output. They are also perhaps the most successful fusion of German and Italian styles of the early baroque. His music enjoyed great popularity during and well after his time; it was also a considerable influence on his contemporary composers.
Very few recordings are currently available of Rosenmüller’s music, which makes the release of this beautifully performed program from the Montreal-based early music band Ensemble Masques all the more welcome. This should not be missed by anyone who enjoys exploring 17th-century chamber music.