Saturday, 22 August 2015


“A love of classical music is only partially a natural response to hearing the works performed, it also must come about by a decision to listen carefully, to pay close attention, a decision inevitably motivated by the cultural and social prestige of the art.” - Charles Rosen

Jacob Klein (1688-1748) was a Dutch “dilettante” part-time composer who lived from 1688 to 1748. He was known as Jacob Klein the Younger (to distinguish from his dance-master father Jacob Klein) and was related to several musicians and dancers of his time, as well as painters. Klein was a merchant of some sort; details are not known.

Musically, he was clearly a cellist and wrote many works for the instrument. Musicologists feel he substituted the newer cello for the old-fashioned viola da gamba, which was then going out of style. Scordatura is the practice of a work composed for a different tuning of a particular instrument. He wrote and published a total of 36 sonatas for varying chamber combinations: oboe and figured bass, violin and figured bass, cello and figured bass, and for a pair of cellos.

Only three sets of six have survived to the present. Klein didn’t just toss off these cello works as a side interest, as many amateur musicians. He created meticulously-designed works of some imagination, with a clear tonal and metrical plan. His music is lively and flexible, with interesting interweavings of lively dotted rhythms and contrasting cadences. All the sonatas are in different keys – the composer evidently had something in mind like Bach’s WTC, but since we have only part of them Klein’s overall plan is not clear.
Here are six of his Cello Sonatas:
No.5 in A minor 0:00
No.2 in A major 14:08
No.4 in E major 26:04
No.1 in B flat major 37:46
No.3 in G major 47:26
No.6 in C minor 58:46

Instruments used in the recording: Baroque Cello by Leopold Wildhalm Nurnberg 1785; Baroque Lute by Ivo Margherini Bremen 2001; Viola da Gamba by Ingo Muthesius Berlin 1978.
Performers: Kristin von der Goltz (cello); Hille Perl (viola da gamba) and Lee Santana (lute).

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