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CLASSICAL  December 2005

CLASSICAL December 2005

Subject:

Obscure Keyboard Works from Alpha

From:

Donald Satz <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 29 Dec 2005 22:44:32 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (73 lines)

Johann Wilhelm Wilms (1772-1847)
Keyboard Concerto in E major, Op. 3 [26:38] *
Joseph Schmitt (1734-1791)
Quartet for Piano, Flute, Violin and Cello in C major, Op. 9 no. 1 [12:35] *
Carolus Antonius Fodor (1768-1846)
Keyboard Concerto in G minor, Op. 12 [26:47]

Arthur Schoonderwoerd, fortepiano and tangent piano *
Ensemble Cristofori (period instruments)
Recorded September 2002
Released July 2004
Alpha Productions 052 [66:16]

This is a well-played disc of pleasant Classical era music written by
composers who relocated to Amsterdam to practice their art: Wilms and
Schmitt from Germany, Fodor from Austria.  I had rather high expectations
of the Wilms Concerto based on a disc I reviewed of two of his symphonies
recorded on the Archiv label.  These symphonies were chock-full of
compelling melodies and reflected serious matters.  To my regret, Wilms'
Concerto has less substance and emotional depth.  A likely prime reason
for the differences is that the Concerto was composed in 1798, while the
symphonies were penned in the 1820's-30's.

The 1st Movement Allegro of the Wilms is a lengthy one at over 12 minutes.
It has plenty of drive and fetching melodic content until the development
section begins about 6 minutes into the movement.  I have to say that
Wilms isn't very good at expanding on the themes presented in his
expositions; I noted this same problem on the Archiv disc.  However, the
2nd Movement Poco adagio goes well with a sad and tense first section
followed by an heroic second section featuring the brass.  The 3rd
Movement Rondo allegro offers a perky theme that I surprisingly find
myself humming occasionally.  The Schmitt Quartet is also a fine work
with more of a baroque flavor than the Wilms Concerto.  The Quartet's
1st and 3rd Movements present a carefree and playful personality except
for infrequent minor key passages, and the woeful music of the 2nd
Movement is beautifully played by the highly esteemed flautist Wilbert
Hazelzet.

The G minor Concerto by Fodor is a highly enjoyable work of more serious
intent than the Wilms or Schmitt.  To a degree, the Fodor reminds me of
Hummel in terms of variety of expression and overall musical fecundity.
The 1st Movement contains many compelling motifs and a fine degree of
tension, the 2nd Movement Adagio is an elegant charmer, and the 3rd
Movement takes us on a journey to the European notion of Turkish music
replete with a "Turkish Fanfare" that is most captivating although hardly
accurate.

The period instruments are a pleasure to listen to and quite a departure
from recent trends in period instrument sound worlds.  Remember the early
years of period instrument recordings?  The sound world was tangy, a little
wiry, crisp as hell, and piercing.  Those who disliked this sound world
reported on the ugliness of it all.  In recent years, the period instrument
sound world has moved closer to modern instruments with a suave and rich
sound of greater instrumental blending.  Schoonderwoerd and Cristofori take
us back to that initial sound world; although it can be a little hard on the
ears, I just love those piercing strings and hard definition among musical
lines.

Concerning the keyboard instruments, Schoonderwoerd plays the Wilms
and Schmitt works on a tangent piano, then switches to a fortepiano for
the Fodor.  The main differences are that the tangent piano has the more
aggressive tone, while the fortepiano sparkles and blends more into the
orchestral fabric.  Although both Schoonderwoerd and Cristofori could
have injected greater imagination into their interpretations, I am well
satisfied with the performances.

Don's Conclusions: Fine music, but it is not great music by any stretch.
I'll go with a mild recommendation for general audiences and a strong
one for those who love period instruments for the same reasons that
traditionalists hate them.

Don Satz
[log in to unmask]

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