Johann Mattheson (Hamburg, September 28 1681 — April 17 1764) was an unusual musical figure, remembered chiefly for his theoretical oeuvre, indispensable these days to our understanding of music-making during the first half of the eighteenth century. A tireless analyst, a great encyclopaedist of forms and genres, and a evaluator of the most well-known composers of his time, he was unafraid to declare his own opinion on the issues he felt were central to the development of the music he so ardently observed. Nevertheless, he was above all a musician, and the danger remains that his musicological reputation be allowed to overshadow the creative musical talent revealed by a body of composition as rich as it is varied. He advanced himself at every opportunity and excelled in each field he embraced: composing for the theatre and for the church, and active in the worlds of diplomacy and of music literature. The Pièces de Clavecin en Deux Volumes, published in London in 1714, appeared at a key period in Mattheson's life. In 1704, he had become tutor to the son of Sir John Wich, English ambassador in Hamburg. Mattheson composed his instrumental music during the period as instructor of Cyril Wich, the gran virtuoso to whom he dedicated, probably as early as 1705, a collection of sonatas for two harpsichords. The teaching process seems to have stimulated a desire to create his own technique, as well as contribute to the development of the repertoire especially intended for the harpsichord, the instrument he considered solely capable of realising and furthering the progress of music, and for which he championed an especially idiomatic style. In the Pièces de Clavecin Mattheson demonstrates a comprehensive command of the conventions of the suite combined with an undeniable mastery of the dominant French and Italian asthetics of his time, while maintaining the German penchant for counterpoint. He was part of the Vermischter Geschmack [Reunion of Tastes] movement, which culminated in the 1720-1724 French and English Suites of Johann Sebastian Bach. Mattheson's work also stands at the threshold of a new era, begun by Francois Couperin (in his Premier Livre of 1713) and Jean-Philippe Rameau (Deuxième and Troisième Livres of 1724 and 1728), whose works exercised great influence on suite composition right up until the end of the Ancien Regime. This recording hopes to promote a more general acquaintance with Johann Mattheson the musician, gifted composer and servant of musical progress.
CRISTIANO HOLTZ was born in Brazil, in 1972. He started his musical training with his grandmother when he was seven years old. Inspired by the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, he began to study the harpsichord at the age of twelve. In 1987 he continued his musical studies in The Netherlands, staying for 10 years and studying with several teachers, including Jacques Ogg and Gustav Leonhardt. He also attended masterclasses with Miklós Spányi (clavichord) and Pierre Hantaï (harpsichord). Since 1989 he has been playing — mostly as a soloist — throughout Europe, Latin America and Asia, and in many international festivals, such as Vilafamés (Spain), Mafra (Portugal), Campos de Jordão and Juiz de Fora (Brazil). Besides harpsichord and clavichord, he also gives recitals on historical organs. In 1995 he won an award in the Eldorado competition, Sao Paulo. Cristiano Holtz frequently records for Brazilian and Portuguese radio and television. In 2002 he made a recording of keyboard works of Vivaldi, Händel and Bach for Porto European Culture Capital, in association with the daily newspaper Público. He currently lives in Lisbon where he teaches at the Gregorian Institute and at the National Conservatorium of Music. He is also responsible for the maintenance of some of the historical keyboard instruments and for the organisation of recitals at the Portuguese Music Museum.