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Franz Anton HOFFMEISTER (1754-1812)
Wind Serenades Vol. 2
Esterhazy-Parthia No. 5 [13:05]
Parthia No. 25 [21:32]
Parthia No. 24 [24:55]
Parthia No. 3 [13:34]
Consortium Classicum: Dieter Klöcker (clarinet), Johannes Pieper (clarinet), Jan Schroeder (horn), Theodor Wiemes (horn), Helman Jung (bassoon), Albrecht Holder (bassoon), Michinori Bunya (double bass)
rec. 8-11 March 2004, Kleiner Saal, Meistersinghalle, Nürnberg
CPO 777 133-2 [73:13]


All this music was new to me, and I am delighted to have made its acquaintance, especially in such fluent, well recorded performances.

Hoffmeister’s was a name I knew long before I had ever heard any of his music. In 1785 he established what became one of the most important of all Viennese music publishers; the Hoffmeister catalogue included works by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, as well as by a host of lesser composers, such as Pleyel, Wanhal, Dittersdorf and Albrechtsberger. Hoffmeister’s is a name which turns up in biographies of Mozart and Beethoven. What I, at least, was slower to learn was that Hoffmeister was also a prolific composer himself – his works include over thirty string quartets, more than fifty symphonies, eight operas etc, etc! It is only in relatively recent times that there has been much of an opportunity to hear much of this music. A recent Naxos issue, for example, contains three of his string quartets persuasively played by the Aviv Quartet.

If I understand the booklet notes to this CD correctly - they are the work of Dieter Klöcker, leader of Consortium Classicum - these wind serenades are played in editions prepared from manuscripts; we are assured that more such works “continue to slumber away as manuscripts in the local archives”.

The music belongs firmly in the tradition of Viennese Harmoniemusik and, as such, contains no great surprises. The idiom is not an especially personal one and originality is not their strongest claim on our attention. Their understanding of the common idiom is, on the other hand, absolute; the attention to instrumental blending is wonderfully sensitive, the ear for effect and for tonal juxtaposition is very well developed. Any listener fond of this musical idiom – fond of the wind serenades of Mozart or Beethoven or, indeed of Stamitz – will find much to relish here.

The Esterhazy-Parthia (Parthia being a term for a suite) has three movements; Parthia Nos. 25 and 3 have four movements; Parthia No. 24 is made up of five movements. Consortium Classicum, it will be noted, uses a double bass to underpin the wind instruments. Klöcker explains this choice as, in part, based on comments by the clarinettist Anton Stadler (friend of both Mozart and Hoffmeister), quoted in the booklet. The effect gives a particular spring to the rhythms of some of the faster movements. There is much graciously expressive writing in Hoffmeister’s slow movements, and all the wind instruments get their moments in the foreground as well as making their contributions to the subtle interplay of voices.

Consortium Classicum has been active since 1962 - with some changes of personnel - and is thoroughly at home in this music, which could scarcely have better advocates.

This is deeply civilised and sophisticated music, subtle but wholly unpretentious, with an air of outdoor freshness about it. I hope that some of those other manuscripts will soon be awoken from their slumbers!

Glyn Pursglove





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