Baroque Bohemia & Beyond
Volume 4 Josef MYSLIVEČEK (1737-1781)
Sinfonia III in C major (1763) [9:55] Jan Adam GALLINA (1724-1773)
Sinfonia in E flat major [13:17] Jan VENT (1745-1801)
Sinfonia in E flat major [18:20] Josef MYSLIVEČEK (1737-1781)
Sinfonia VI in D major (1763) [6:13] Josef BÁRTA (c.1744-1787)
Sinfonia in F minor [14:26] Josef FIALA (1748-1816)
Sinfonia in F major [9:10]
Philharmonic Orchestra/Zdenĕk Adam (artistic
Vojtĕch Spurný (harpsichord, conductor)
rec. May 2007, Studio Arco Diva Domovina, Prague ALTO ALC1014 [72:00]
Woolf gave a warm welcome to the three
preceding volumes in this series and there is no great
reason why one should not treat the fourth volume similarly.
And yet, it has to be said, quite a lot of the music here
is worthy rather than especially exciting. This is probably
best regarded as a disc for those with a particular interest
in the field, rather than for the general listener.
Mysliveček is the one composer represented twice in this
anthology. Born in village near Prague, the son of a successful
miller, Mysliveček initially followed in his father’s
trade. After the death of his father, however, he passed on
his share of the business to his brother and concentrated
on making a new career in music, having previously studied
the organ, the violin and composition. He went on to study
in Venice with Giovanni Pescetti, and made something of a
career for himself in Italy; Mozart thought quite well of
his work. An excessive fondness for drink – and for other
men’s wives (venereal disease cost him his nose) – led to
his death in poverty in Rome. The two Sinfonias played here
are pleasant, if less colourful than the life story of their
composer. They are relatively conventional, each in three
movements (allegro-andantino-presto); in both cases the opening
allegros are attractively energetic, the central andantinos
have a mild charm and the closing prestos are engaging.
had connections with the Pachtas, an important family whose
estate at Citoliby, some forty miles from Prague, was an important
centre of musical patronage. Jan Adam Gallina was, for a time,
musical director at Citoliby. He is represented here by a
very attractive four-movement Sinfonia. There is consistent
inventiveness in the use of orchestral colours, some nice
transitional passages and some effective contrasts of tempo
and dynamics. In the andante the writing for woodwinds has
real poignancy and in the menuetto there is a boisterous (yet
dignified) energy that such movements don’t always have. There
is some attractive writing for the horns - played by Zdeněk
Adam and Romana Mazákova. It seems that only a small proportion
of Galina’s orchestral work survives – a shame if it was all
as good as this Sinfonia.
Vent, son of a fiddle-playing cobbler, was born near Citoliby.
After some musical studies in Prague - he was an oboist of
some distinction - he too worked for the Pachtas. He went
on to work in Vienna where, amongst other things, he made
arrangements of ‘hits’ from Mozart operas for wind band. His
Sinfonia in E flat major is also in four movements, pleasant
but unremarkable, less striking than Galina’s composition
in the same key.
born in Prague in the mid 1740s, he was working – with some
success – in Vienna from the beginning of the 1770s. He wrote
a number of operas and singspiels, string quartets and symphonies.
The first movement of his Sinfonia in F minor starts with
a rather solemn adagio which mutates into a bubbly allegro;
the central menuetto dances along engagingly and the closing
allegro is music of Haydnesque expressiveness and dynamism.
Of another Sinfonia by Bárta which appeared on Volume 1 of
this series Jonathan Woolf said that it was “a good example
of Sturm und Drang in compressed form”. So is this one – vigorous,
intense, quasi-dramatic music. It would be good to hear more
of Bárta’s work; a CD or two devoted just to him would, I
suspect, be an interesting proposition.
closing work on this CD is by Josef Fiala, who was born some
thirty miles south-west of Prague at Lochovice. An oboist
(like Vent he studied with Jan Stiastny in Prague) who could
double on cello and viola da gamba, Fiala worked for a series
of aristocratic masters, including the Elector Maximilian
Joseph in Munich. Mozart encountered him and his music there
and in a letter to his father described Fiala’s music as “pretty”.
That gets it about right – this Sinfonia in F major is graceful
and pleasant without ever achieving any real sense of weight
or substance or developing any very distinctive characteristics.
Pleasant and pretty, worth hearing, but less than memorable.
modern-instrument ensemble of the Czech Chamber Philharmonic
Orchestra plays stylishly and with commitment; just once or
twice I found myself wondering if some of this music - notably
that of Bárta and Gallina - might not have benefited from
slightly more sense of drama. But such a quibble shouldn’t
be allowed to put off anyone with an interest in the music
of this time and place, especially as several of these pieces
are here receiving their very first recordings.
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