The Dew Gatherers

Songs, Arias and Variations by J P Krieger

Cole, Heymink and Brewer

Playing their own arrangements and realisations of the songs and arias of Johann Philipp Krieger, this trio (voice, harpsichord & bassoon) has created a ground-breaking, unique and original recording.

Johann Philipp Krieger (1649-1725) is one of the important forerunners of Bach and Handel. He wrote some of the most exquisite and reflective melodies, and his works offer a great variety of moods, tempi and textures. This innovative recording of Baroque music revisits history and brings it into the present, adopting also a kind of Biberesque approach (since Biber was Krieger’s exact contemporary and compatriot). You will consequently hear cows, bears, a sow and a hiccupping beer drinker among these tracks. Krieger’s songs are rarely heard and have been scantily recorded, yet they represent some of the jewels of Baroque vocal music.

The 70’ CD contains 20 surviving arias from Krieger’s operas “Flora, Ceres und Pomona”, “Cecrops mit seinen Drei Töchtern”, “Cephalus und Procris” and “Der wiederkehrende Phoebus”. The final track is one of only four surviving solo keyboard works by Krieger: “Aria con 24 variazioni in B”.

The CD is distributed by MOVE Records. See review below.
CDs are $25 each + postage or 2 for $40 + postage.
To purchase please submit an enquiry or see Amanda Cole’s website

This recording project was proudly supported by the Regional Arts Development Fund. RADF is a partnership between the Queensland Government and Sunshine Coast Council designed to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.

My Associate Artists:
Amanda Cole (mezzo soprano) has performed to critical acclaim in Australia, New Zealand, Austria and Germany. Her recording of Portuguese Art Song (Ode Records) drew high praise from the Journal of Singing (USA) and the Camões Institute of Portugal. She holds a PhD in performing arts education (Griffith), a Masters of Music Performance from the VCA (University of Melbourne) and is a former Churchill Fellow. For more information see
Neil Heymink (bassoon) studied bassoon at the Qld Conservatorium and in the Netherlands. As an orchestral musician he has performed with the Qld Symphony Orchestra, the Qld Pops Orchestra, the Northern Rivers Symphony and Sinfonia of St Andrew’s. As a chamber musician and soloist he performs frequently around the Sunshine Coast and is a member of Pacific Chamber Players.

The Dew Gatherers is a disc of Songs, Arias and Variations by Johann Philipp Krieger (1649 – 1725) performed by Amanda Cole (mezzo soprano), Neil Heymink (bassoon) and Janet Brewer (harpsichord), recently released on Move Records. The accompanying booklet indicates that the short vocal pieces represent virtually all that is extant of the composer’s operatic works written for performance in Weißenfels. The title refers to the mythological characters who have associations with the dew. The most fascinating aspect of Krieger’s music as represented here, is his assimilation of various national styles as a consequence of travel, study and employment in several European countries.

The booklet notes by Amanda Cole suggest that he had already ”developed a personal variant of the style later famous as the mixed goût”. At times there is an audible affinity with the music of Bach and Handel (and the notes mention Krieger’s importance as forerunner of these eminent composers). Inevitably for the baroque era, topics are pastoral, moralistic or deal with matters of love and jealousy. The items are agreeably arranged with attention to contrasting changes of texture (such as the periodic addition of bassoon to the bass line, or even allowing the double reed instrument a solo verse of its own), and ordered in a way that juxtaposes major and minor keys, as well as diversely expressed sentiments. Tracks 1-9 are from Krieger’s operatic work Flora, Ceres & Pomona. A flowing bassoon melody (the music originally set for male voice) opens proceedings with a brief Hymn to Aeolus (the Wind God), and serves as a little introduction to the ensuing arias for the character of Flora (Fertility Goddess of flowers & spring). Neil Heymink’s tuneful and beautifully rounded bassoon tone is consistent throughout the recording, often appearing like an additional voice. The harpsichord too, has a mellow resonance and maintains a persuasive and gratifying presence. Janet Brewer is ever-creative in her approach, interpreting and ornamenting with subtle and well-judged taste.

An Aria “To the Sun God” introduces the rich, sumptuous mezzo voice of Amanda Cole who is especially plaintive in the next song with bassoon giving extra pathos. A grumbling bassoon introduces “The Grumble Bear” and finishes with a humorous reed squeak to represent the gluttony of a wild sow! Neil’s delicious vocal quality is a feature, alongside Amanda’s plangent delivery of the torment of passionate love in “The Burning Lover”. We have an echo aria (of the type found in early Italian opera, and adopted by Bach) in the lilting “The Joy of Summer”, where Janet and Amanda add fresh and virtuosic ornaments to the recurring stanzas.

The next five arias from the opera Cecrops with his three daughters (known as the Dew Sisters) are imaginatively and sensitively performed with due regard to inherent emotions. The melancholy “Love-Torment” is beautifully introduced by the keyboard while the bassoon sighs in empathy with the vain hope expressed by the text, and performs a solo verse. Voice and instruments are particularly appealing here, with all three artists applying graceful and effective embellishments. The remaining arias are for Procris (Goddess of Dew) from the tragedy Cephalus and Procris (and there is one from The Returning Phoebus). “Joy of Hunting” involves bassoon and harpsichord in a jubilant fanfare. “To Solitude” is Purcellian (and Italianate) in its design and use of ostinato bass. The lamenting “You Ill-Fated Morning Star” precedes “The Farmer’s Inn” with hiccups!

An Aria and 24 Variations showing stylistic commonalities with Kerll and Froberger – Krieger’s fellow German composers and keyboard virtuosi – concludes the disc. The 8-bar theme undergoes some diverting changes of metre – 6/8, 3/4, 4/4 and 3/2 – and contains an harmonically bizarre variant. Janet Brewer adds to the interest by “using a different choir of strings on the harpsichord [to] create more tender Affekt in several of the variations”.

As well as notes and translations, the booklet is enhanced by colour reproductions of pertinent mythological scenes by Old Masters (and one Post- Impressionist). Please buy!
© Jane Downer 2018