The Freiburger Barock Consort welcomes listeners to sounds from the Habsburg court with the music of 17th c. Austrian composer, Johann Heinrich Schmelzer. The 2012 Harmonia Mundi release titled Barockes Welttheater, literally dances with instrumental sonatas and suites of “balletti” that groove with various percussion instruments, harpsichord, as well as both bowed and plucked strings.
Schmelzer took up post as the imperial ballet composer at court in 1655, where entertainments could include elaborate pageants, masquerades and ballets. He often titled music for these court festivities to reference stock characters such as shepherds, nymphs, spirits and animals. Commedia dell’arte characters like Harlequin or Scaramuccia also make appearances, as in Schmelzer’s Balletto primo di Spoglia di Papagi heard on this recording.