CD Review: Harpsichordist Mitzi Meyerson performs Muffat’s ‘Componimenti Musicali’



Gottlieb Muffat was a German baroque organist and composer who spent most of his life at court in Vienna—first as a student and then as court organist, opera keyboardist, and teacher to the children of the imperial family (including the future Empress Maria Theresa).

He is generally recognized as the most prominent Viennese keyboard composer of his day.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Muffat’s surviving compositions, a body of work impressive in magnitude, are almost exclusively for the keyboard, most of which remain unpublished.

His Componimenti Musicali (c1739), a set of six grand suites and a ciacona for harpsichord, is the latter of two collections of music he published during his lifetime, and perhaps the most well-known. George Frideric Handel admired the Componimenti enough to have conspicuously stolen musical ideas from it and passed them off as his own (famous examples can be found in the Ode for St Cecilia’s Day of 1739).

Mitzi Meyerson’s recent Glossa label release of the complete Componimenti is not only a remarkable undertaking but an incredible recording from a world-class musician.

As a harpsichordist I am keenly interested in the recordings of other early keyboardists, but rarely do I return to any particular performance as I have with Meyerson’s. On every listening, I found myself discovering something new inherent in both the music and the performance.

Meyerson’s style, although very personal, is an exemplar of the kind of harpsichord-playing I admire most—authoritative, muscular, full of life. Her technique and control easily conquered Muffat’s virtuosic demands without resorting to affectation.

It’s clear from the first through last tracks, that she absorbed Muffat’s music and delivered it as her own in the most compelling manner.

BUY: Gottlieb Muffat: Componimenti Musicali – Mitzi Meyerson, harpsichord

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