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Georg Christoph WAGENSEIL (1715-1777)
Concerto in E flat major for oboe, bassoon and orchestra (c.1761) [16:25]
Concerto in F major for harp and strings (c.1761)[17:14]
Concerto in A major for piano, violin and strings (c.1760) [19:17]
Concerto in D major for flute and strings (c.1760) [17:36]
Florian Deuter (violin); Rainer Johannsen (bassoon); Susanne Regel (oboe); Martin Sandhoff (transverse flute); Johanna Seitz (harp); Alexander Weimann (fortepiano)
Echo du Danube/Alexander Weimann
rec. 5-10 July 2008, Deutschlandfunk Kammermusiksaal, Cologne
ACCENT ACC24186 [69:01] 

 

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Wagenseil is one of that interesting group of composers whose music helped develop and establish the new classical style as the 18th century progressed. He was a prolific composer who was held in high esteem by his contemporaries, and his work at the Habsburg Court included the composition of some sixty symphonies. Among later musicians, Haydn and Mozart knew his music - at least from the printed scores - and admired it. Most notably, Wagenseil established the combination of first subject in the tonic key and second subject in the dominant, while also employing contrasts between major and minor keys.
 

If he is best known for his contribution to the development of the symphony, Wagenseil’s interest in the concerto should not to be overlooked. He worked with talented musicians and therefore wrote music for them. In that sense these performances by the chamber orchestra Echo du Danube follow the correct procedure in employing soloists from within their own company, though perhaps it seems a little churlish only to mention the identities of these individual performers in the small print at the end of the booklet. 

That booklet does an excellent job in supporting this little known music, with a thorough essay about the man and the music, written by Helga Scholz-Michelitsch and translated very effectively by Debbie Hogg - other labels take note: it can be done. The layout is clear and unfussy. 

These high production standards extend to the quality of the recording too. There is a good sense of atmosphere and the balance is expertly managed, so that the details emerge and the sonorities are effective. As for the music itself, this is interesting rather than compelling. In the longer lines of the central slow movements, interest is not always maintained in terms of the quality of the invention, though all the notes are present and correct. In the outer, quicker, movements, there is that same chronic short-windedness that can be found in so much of the music of the pre-classical era, which is why it is seldom heard in live concerts and remains on the fringes of the repertoire. 

Echo du Danube acquit themselves well, striking an effective compromise between scholarly accuracy and artistic expression. If the results are largely unmemorable it is not because the performers have let the side down, it is simply the nature of the music itself, which is accomplished but ultimately presents a whole that is less than the sum of the parts. This is a disc that will give pleasure but is unlikely to become a firm favourite. 

Terry Barfoot

 


 


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