Johann Heinrich Schmelzer: Sonata Quarta; Elizabeth Blumenstock, baroque violin; Voices of Music

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Johann Schmelzer’s Sonata Quarta in D Major from Sonatae Unarum Fidium (1664). Live video from the Voices of Music Great Artists Series in San Francisco. Featuring Elizabeth Blumenstock, baroque violin; William Skeen, viola da gamba; Hanneke van Proosdij, baroque organ, and David Tayler, theorbo.
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A. As instruments became modernized in the 19th century, builders and players tended to focus on the volume of sound and the stability of tuning. Modern steel strings replaced the older materials, and instruments were often machine made. Historical instruments, built individually by hand and with overall lighter construction, have extremely complex overtones—which we find delightful. Modern instruments are of course perfectly suited to more modern music.

Q. Why is the pitch lower, or higher?
A. Early Music performance uses many different pitches, and these pitches create different tone colors on the instruments. See
One of the finest examples of the early baroque German sonatas for violin and continuo, the Sonata Quarta of Johann Schmelzer combines florid passagework with harmonic and contrapuntal ingenuity. A ground bass connects each of the varied movements, and the work concludes with a virtuosic cadenza over a pedal point. Considered one of the finest violinists in world in 1660, Schmelzer published a collection of his solo sonatas of 1664; these are some of the most important works for the violin in the 17th century. The sonatas are Italianate in style, and set the stage for subsequent works of Biber and Bach.
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