Schmelzer: The Emperor's Fiddle / Irving

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Johann Heinrich Schmelzer was a leading violin virtuoso in mid-seventeenth-century Europe, highly favored by Holy Roman Emperors Ferdinand III and Leopold I. His six Sonatæ unarum fidium (Sonatas for one fiddle) take pride of place in the history of violin music as the earliest collection of sonatas published by a non-Italian composer, in 1664. These works cover the full gamut of emotions, from extreme passions and extravagant virtuosity to the most intimate and profound expressions of poetic introspection, with elegant dances inserted for good measure. The violin that Schmelzer played was likely made by Jacob Stainer, the most celebrated luthier in Europe, whose violins were renowned for their fine silvery tone and considered superior to Cremonese models. This recording features a replica of a c.1670 Stainer violin, with strings in equal tension, played with a short and light bow based on seventeenth-century designs, with its hair at high tension. This album explores the lavish soundworld and rich musical invention of the emperor’s fiddler.

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: CD718

  • UPC: 658592071825

  • Label: Obsidian