“The Judgement of Paris”
John Eccles wrote “The Judgement of Paris” for a competition held in London at the beginning of the 18th Century. He and three notable composers (Daniel Purcell, John Weldon, and Gottfried Finger) were chosen to set a well-known tale about a shepherd named Paris and his challenge to decide who was the most beautiful goddess—Venus, Pallas, or Juno. As in all competitions, the results were unexpected—John Eccles lost—but, as history would have it, he composed the finest of the four settings.
The Early Opera Company’s new recording of Eccles’ work is the only complete one available. Luckily, their performance, led by Christian Curnyn, is nothing short of definitive, which includes an excellent cadre of soloists supported by a world-class baroque orchestra. The recording also features each of the three soprano leads in a performance of a mad song by Eccles, a little something extra and an especially nice touch.
Gottlieb Muffat was a German baroque organist and composer. He was also the son of Georg Muffat, arguably the more famous of the two. Nevertheless, Gottlieb was successful in his own right. His collection of harpsichord suites entitled “Componimenti Musicali” clearly shows that he was a virtuoso capable of creating highly original and spirited music. The collection even had a number of admirers, including George Frideric Handel who borrowed ideas from Muffat and applied them to his own compositions.
American harpsichordist Mitzi Meyerson is a champion of the lesser-known keyboard composers from the 18th Century, a dedication for which she has received critical acclaim. Her latest Glossa label release features Gottlieb Muffat’s complete “Componimenti Musicali” of 1736, a tour de force performance of the highest caliber. It is somewhat difficult to put into words the essence of her playing, but there’s something immediately striking about her approach— at once poetic, sensuous, muscular, and energetic. Can you ask any more from a great performer?