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World Premieres with Michael Willens and Die Koelner Akademie

World premiere recordings of music by composers Johann Mattheson, Ferdinand Ries, Carl Stamitz, and Johann Christian Fischer.

“A Loving and Patient David”

The German period instrument orchestra known as Die Koelner Akademie has been championing the music of little-known composers for many years and has been producing numerous world-premiere recordings in the process. Directed by Michael Willens, two of the Akademie’s more recent CPO label releases have been devoted to the oratorios of Johann Mattheson, a prolific German baroque writer and composer. The Akademie’s recording of Mattheson’s oratorio, “A Loving and Patient David,” is an excellent debut for a work, perhaps, not heard since the composer’s time. The soloists, chorus, and ensemble are in fine form.

“The Greatest Child”

Johann Mattheson composed many oratorios on biblical themes. The other CPO recording by Die Koelner Akademie focused on a Christmas story. Entitled “The Greatest Child,” the work is a welcome addition and alternative to the handful of baroque works that get performed on a yearly basis around Christmas time. The Akademie’s performance is dynamic and, like their other Mattheson recording, has excellent soloists, as well as chorus and orchestra.

Concertos and Overtures by Ferdinand Ries

A student of Beethoven, Ferdinand Ries was not as prolific as his mentor. But, if Die Koelner Akademie’s recording devoted to his works is any measure, Ries was an excellent composer, nonetheless. The Akademie’s program includes a concerto for two horns, a concerto for violin, and an overture from each of his first two operas. The performances are world-class, to say the least. The concerto soloists, in particular, exhibit great energy and virtuosic appeal.

Forgotten Treasures, vol. 7

For volume seven in the Forgotten Treasures series, Die Koelner Akademie’s director, Michael Willens, chose a program of classical oboe concertos by Johann Christian Fischer and Carl Stamitz. As has been the case with previous recordings in the series, the Akademie’s performance is terrific. Michael Niesemann, the concerto soloist, proves why he’s one of the world great early oboists. His extroverted playing is full of subtlety and contrast.

  • Listen to a past Harmonia program featuring Die Koelner Akademie, or read a blog post in which Michael Willens answers questions about the ensemble.
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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