If ever a forgotten composer deserved restoration into the pantheon of greatness, it is Ignaz Pleyel. A student of Haydn, a colleague whom Mozart speculated would one day overshadow his teacher, Pleyel left behind an enormous body of music. In addition to his composing activities, he was a successful businessman, the owner of a major publishing firm, an instrument factory and the named patron of a very famous concert hall.
At one time regarded as one of the greatest living composers, Pleyel’s influence stretched all over Europe and even to the United States, where as late as 1822, a society in Massachusetts bore his name with the mission to "purify the taste of the public." Although he outlived the younger Beethoven by four years, the shadow of the giant from Bonn was too long for Pleyel to surpass, and his music fell completely out of fashion. His reputation as a businessman stayed strong throughout his life, but his compositions became a footnote.
The Zurich Chamber orchestra and soloists Jakub Dzialak and Riccardo Bovino have done great things for the cause of Pleyel’s comeback with this perfectly elegant recording. This is beyond a doubt one of the finest performances that I have heard this year. Engaging from the first note, the listener is immediately caught up in the sheer breezy refinement of these scores. I can only hope that our ensemble will give us more music by this sadly underrated master.
The intonation and ensemble of this orchestra is flawless. Every phase is shaped perfectly. Soloists Dzialak and Bovino play with the perfect balance of virtuosity and taste. They clearly enjoy this music and set about to allow us in on the game. CPO have once again given us a finely engineered recording, excellently spaced, with the solo instruments in just the right focus. The program notes are brilliant, beautifully written, and extremely informative and leave the reader wanting to find out more.
CPO ranks amongst my favorite labels as everything they issue is interesting and well done. They have outdone themselves with this one, and I can say nothing more than that no lover of elegant music should be without this disc. It is a winner through and through. This recording will certainly be in my top ten for the year.