> WEYSE Late piano works [RW]: Classical Reviews- January 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Christoph Ernst Friedrich WEYSE (1774-1842)
The Late Piano Works

8 Etudes Op.51 (1831)
Prestissimo in C Major
Allegro moderato in C Minor
Allegro in D flat Major
Allegretto in C sharp Minopr
Allegro con spirito in D Major
Allegro con brio in D Minor
Allegretto in E flat Major
Vivace in E flat Minor
4 Etudes Op.60 (1837)
Allegro con brio in Emajor
Allegretto in E Minor
Allegro con brio in F Major
Andante ben marcato, il canto in F Minor
Allegro di bravura in A Minor Op.50 (1831)
Bohumila Jedlickova (piano)
Rec. 1993, Copenhagen, Denmark
Full Price

This is a re-issue by Marco Polo/Dacapo from the Dacapo release eight years ago.

Christoph Weyse was born in Denmark, close to the German border near Hamburg. In his teens he arrived in Copenhagen as a young virtuoso pianist to live with Schulz, a composer and conductor of the Royal Theatre there. This introduction to Schulz and the move had been due to the influence of professor C F Cramer of Kiel who was the son of the King Frederik Vís court chaplain. The young Weyse had visited Cramer asking for help to become a musician and the move to Copenhagen had been the outcome.

Weyseís early years in Copenhagen as apprentice to Schulz led to his acceptance for the post of organist in the German Reformed Church (1792) at the age of eighteen. He went on to play at court, perform piano concertos by Mozart and become a member of one of the cityís private musical clubs. During the early part of his career he wrote songs and contemporary testimony indicates that, as a pianist, his improvisatory talents were extraordinary. In a letter to the music publisher Härtel in Leipzig, Kuhlau went so far as to say that Weyse was the best pianist he had ever heard and that he far outshone Ferdinand Ries, the composer and pupil of Beethoven who was one of the great virtuosi of the age and was touring Scandinavia at the time.

Weyse's chief contribution to Danish music history was in the field of vocal composition, which was the dominant genre in Danish romanticism in the rest of the nineteenth century.

The Piano Works

Weyse was conservative by nature, and his musical horizon did not extend beyond Mozart (at least in his youth); his contemporary Beethoven seems not to have made any impression on him at all. He, himself, says the composers revered were J.S. Bach, Handel, C.P.E. Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Gluck, and Schulz. When he began to study with Schulz he encountered Clementi's piano music for the first time. This composer, together with J.S. and C.P.E. Bach, Haydn, and Mozart can be said to have left the most significant mark on Weyse's own piano music. Weyse's earliest piano works are preserved in two autograph volumes entitled "Jugendarbeiten 1790-1794". They consist of a handful of small pieces, fugues, a fantasy in the style of C.P.E. Bach, four sonatas inspired by Schulz, Clementi, Haydn, and Mozart, and eight of the virtuoso Allegros in sonata form that were later to become his speciality. A reviewer wrote at the time that Weyse was the first to promote this genre under the title of Allegri di bravura. The German composer, critic, and publisher Johann Friedrich Reichardt, who visited Copenhagen in 1793, arranged for six new Allegri di bravura to be printed in Germany in 1796. These debut compositions were very flatteringly received.

There now followed a period of over twenty years in which Weyse apparently wrote nothing new for the piano. It needed an external impulse to stimulate Weyse to new piano-writing activity. In the autumn of 1829 the Bohemian composer, Ignaz Moscheles, probably the greatest and most respected piano virtuoso of the time, visited Copenhagen and took audiences by storm with his playing. There is no doubt that Moscheles was responsible for reawakening Weyse's interest in the piano at this late stage in his life, when he produced his last significant works for the instrument: the big Allegro di bravura in A minor op. 50 and the twelve Etudes op. 51 and 60. A remarkable thing is that the conservative Weyse now writes music in a wholly up-to-date style. Having practised classicism in his youth, the composer became a romantic in his old age. His Allegro con brio in E major and the one in F Major from his Op.60 are interesting and of individualistic style (tk.9 & 11) Running through the etudes is a noticeable liking for chromatic scales of various descriptions.

The acoustics of the venue (hall name not given) are flattering and the piano is nicely miked. The detailed notes by an unknown writer (Carsten Hatting perhaps?) go out of their way to give musical examples to explain the tremolo effect which Moscheles taught Weyse for use in his Allegro di bravura. This can be heard (tk.13 at 3.00 and 5.50).

The pianist Bohumila Jedlickova graduated first from the Prague Conservatoire and later from the city's Academy of Music. She moved on to Copenhagenís Academy of Music and in 1973 made her debut, winning the Carl Nielsen Prize which allowed study at the Juilliard School in New York. The etudes here, sometimes very short, are played with deep expression, panache and vigour. They are experimental, inventive studies that are demanding of a pianistís agility but with content that is not always memorable. Jedlickova meets the challenge of breathing life into them with energy and commitment.

Raymond Walker

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