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Harmonia Early Music

Music of John Eccles and Gottlieb Muffat

The Early Opera Company performs Eccles' "The Judgement of Paris" and harpsichordist Mitzi Meyerson plays Muffat's complete "Componimenti Musicali" of 1736.

woman and carving

Photo: Silvia Lelli and Mitzi Meyerson

Mitzi Meyerson, American harpsichordist.

“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.

“Componimenti Musicali”

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?

Music Heard On This Episode

John Eccles: Paris – “Distracted I turn”
The Early Opera Company/Christian Curnyn — The Judgement of Paris (Chandos, 2009)
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John Eccles: Paris – “Distracted I turn”
The Early Opera Company/Christian Curnyn — The Judgement of Paris (Chandos, 2009)
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John Eccles: Symphony for Juno - "Saturnia, wife of thund'ring jove"
The Early Opera Company/Christian Curnyn — The Judgement of Paris (Chandos, 2009)
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John Eccles: Mad song – “Love’s but the frailty”
The Early Opera Company/Christian Curnyn — The Judgement of Paris (Chandos, 2009)
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Gottlieb Muffat: Suite IV: Gigue
Mitzi Meyerson, harpsichord — “Componimenti Musicali per il Cembalo,” 1736 (Glossa, 2009)
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Gottlieb Muffat: Suite IV: Hornpipe
Mitzi Meyerson, harpsichord — “Componimenti Musicali per il Cembalo,” 1736 (Glossa, 2009)
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Gottlieb Muffat: Suite VII: Ciacona
Mitzi Meyerson, harpsichord — “Componimenti Musicali per il Cembalo,” 1736 (Glossa, 2009)
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Bernard Gordillo

Bernard Gordillo was born in Managua, Nicaragua, and raised in New Orleans. He holds degrees from Centenary College of Louisiana, the Early Music Institute at Indiana University, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London). Bernard also writes and hosts the Harmonia Early Music Podcast.

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  • alanburdick

    I'm trying to track down the recording that you played of a madrigal by Alessandro Stradella on this program. Supposedly it's a new recording, but I missed the players – an ensemble in New York, I believe. This piece had previously appeared on a Dorian CD of Elizabethan London tunes that is evidently no longer available. I cannot find it on your site or Amazon.

    I'd very much appreciate the ID for this recording. Thanks very much.

  • http://twitter.com/bernardgordillo bernardgordillo

    Alan,

    Do you remember the show's title? Also, is the composer's name Alessandro Striggio?

    I'll look into it. Many thanks for listening!

  • alanburdick

    Thank you very much for your reply. After having sent the message, I went to the website of my local radio station, KHPR in Honolulu, and learned that the piece was played by “Early Music New York” and that fact reminded me that I heard the term “Ex Cathedra” used by Ms. Mariani in her announcement. She also said it was a “new recording.”

    With this additional info, I searched Amazon.com again, including looking at the descriptions of all the recordings that I could find for Jeffrey Skidmore's Ex Cathedra ensemble and also “Early Music New York.” Again, I found nothing.

    I was unable to figure out which Harmonia program was aired by KHPR on January 24, although it is clear that it was not the one listed on the Harmonia web-page for that date. I checked through Harmonia's programs for all of 2009 (and perhaps earlier) and could not find any program that included this piece.

    I am pretty certain that the piece was by Allesandro Stradella, as I used to have a recording of it on another label (Dorian), and had played it a number of times.

    Thanks again for your response and whatever additional help you can give me.

    Alan

  • http://twitter.com/bernardgordillo bernardgordillo

    Alan,

    The only new recording by Early Music New York that we've featured in the recent past is called “Music of renaissance Love,” published by Ex Cathedra Records. You can find and purchase it here: http://bit.ly/bbKbk5

    Thanks again.

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