The name of Czech composer František Ignác Antonín Tůma (1704-1774) makes one immediately think, "What, no umlaut, macron, or ogonek?" Strewn diacritics and all, Tůma is one of countless forgotten minor masters at the nexus between the late Baroque and Classical styles. A student of Johann Joseph Fux while in Vienna, the Bohemian-born Tůma had a fairly distinguished career, first as a singer and instrumentalist (organ, viola da gamba, and theorbo!) and later as Kapellmeister for his patron, Count Franz Ferdinand Kinsky, High Chancellor of Bohemia, and then for the dowager empress, widow of Emperor Karl VI. Italian early music specialist Rinaldo Alessandrini, seated at the harpsichord, leads a reduced ensemble of five strings plus theorbo in performances that stand out for their clarity and accuracy. Playing distinguished by attention to melodic line and invention in improvised embellishments could make much more mediocre music palatable, but the truth is that this sampling makes one wonder what else lies hidden in the Tůma works list. What little I know of it is that instrumental music is a relatively small part of the list: as a Kapellmeister, Tůma racked up sixty-some Masses, a score of motets, Vespers and other psalm settings, litanies, and antiphons (unlike the instrumental music, most of it not yet published in critical editions). It is probably unlikely to contain forgotten masterpieces, but it promises to be at least as pleasing and ear-diverting as this melody-rich and contrapuntally leaning chamber music.
F. Tůma, Partite, sonate e sinfonie, Concerto Italiano, R. Alessandrini
(released on June 24, 2008)
Naïve OP 30436
Also from Concerto Italiano:
Monteverdi, Orfeo | Masses by Pergolesi and Scarlatti | Four Seasons
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