Dresden has always been a place for celebration, both in the golden Baroque era and today. Recently, Hartmut Haenchen, who was born in the Saxon city on the River Elbe, celebrate his 70th birthday in an atmosphere of sympathetic public approval. The Berlin Classics label has already released many of his recordings – quite a number of them made with his Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Chamber Orchestra, which he has been directing for over thirty years. The tradition is continued in honour of his birthday with the present recording that centres round a suitably festive theme.
Dresden was also the place where the composer Johann David Heinichen (1683-1729) worked as Kapellmeister at the court of August the Strong, Elector of Saxony. Heinichen composed the Serenata "La Gara degli Dei" (the contest of the gods) for celebrations to mark the marriage of August's son Friedrich August II and Maria Josepha, daughter of Emperor Joseph of Austria. The great political significance of this new union between the houses of Saxony and Habsburg explains the expansive dimensions of the celebrations, which lasted nearly a month! Each god was assigned a day of the week and Heinichen's open-air serenade was not simply a homage to the royal couple sung by the various gods, but simultaneously a preamble and introduction to the entire programme of events to mark the happy occasion.
The original manuscript is kept at the SLUB (Saxon State and University Library) in Dresden, and Hartmut Haenchen, who had already edited this particular work as a fifteen-year-old, performed it with distinguished soloists and his chamber orchestra on November 23, 2003 at the Konzerthaus in Berlin. The 27-piece orchestra faithfully followed the original score thanks to copies of the original copperplate manuscript.
The recording of this event by Deutschlandradio Kultur is now presented for the first time as a premiere recording on CD. The originality and inspired nature of this music, which was considered avantgarde in its time, is still able to astound listeners to this day. This is without doubt an exceptional and outstanding work by the Dresden master of the Baroque, which is well worth discovering.
Alongside the song texts with explanations, the booklet contains an introduction to the work plus input from Hartmut Haenchen about his work with his chamber orchestra. The result is a suitably tasteful CD to mark a special occasion!