In the 18th century, Leufsta Bruk – some 140 kilometres northwest of Stockholm – was the centre of a major industry producing iron both for Swedish needs and for export. It was a little principality in the middle of the forest governed by the descendants of Louis De Geer, the Belgian financier who had developed the ironworks. Highly cultured and musical, the family gathered together a remarkable collection of musical scores, a collection which mirrors the development of music and music publishing on the Continent, as well as the musical activities at a flourishing Swedish manor of the period. Presenting a sample from the Leufsta collection, this disc contains music by international stars – Tartini and Handel – as well as less familiar names, such as the London-based German composer Gottfried Keller and the Swedish composers Johan Helmich Roman and Hinrich Philip Johnsen. Concertos, keyboard solos, sonatas and duets bear testament to the entertainments – often with the active participation of members of the De Geer family themselves – that enlivened the evenings at Leufsta in the mid-18th century. The programme closes with music that has a special connection to the church of Leufsta Bruk and its famous organ from 1728: excerpts from Johnsen’s Church Music, composed for the Easter Day service of 1757. Bringing these musical treasures to life is the Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble, whose many recordings on BIS have created a following around the world. Released in 1985 their version of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, with soloist Nils-Erik Sparf, is still considered one of the classic recordings of this work. More recently the forerunner of the present disc (Musical Treasures of Leufsta Bruk I, BIS-CD-1526) was described as a ‘superbly performed … unique collection of pieces demonstrating an eclectic and aristocratic taste of the early 18th century’ by the reviewer on the website MusicWeb International.
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