Louis (or Ludwig) Spohr was greatly popular and widely
praised during his lifetime as the successor to Mozart. He died confident
of his place high among musicís immortals; the young Brahms eulogized:
"Spohr is dead! He was probably the last of those who still belonged
to an artistic period more satisfying than the one in which we now suffer
... our epoch will go down in the annals of art as a pit of trash Ö"
Fickle fame deserted Spohrís memory and his works were forgotten. He
was "discovered" in the 1950s, and has been slowly re-emerging
into the spotlight since then.
Spohrís music is ravishingly beautiful, and sounds
very much like Mozart without any trace of dark emotions or pedantic
intellectualism. Some people find it cloying, can enjoy it only in small
doses, or dismiss it as background music. But for sheer delight of gorgeous
sound he is beyond comparison, as in this Sonata, one of his finest
works. The notes tell a charming story of Spohrís courting his future
wife by composing music for her so her strict mother would let her out
of the house to attend rehearsals and the lovers could meet. She was
a harpist, so much of this music was written for her.
The D Major Sonata has as its second movement a set
of embellishments on themes from Mozartís Magic Flute. The Fantasie
on Themes of Danzi and Vogler further illustrates his talent at
embellishing a theme. The G Major Sonata shows his skill at constructing
more traditional sonata movements while keeping the graceful, elegant
surface. The Aria from Des Heilands letzte Stunden was written
for his fatally ill wife and is a setting of the Maryís mourning for
the slain Jesus. The music expresses only a wisful, gentle sadness with
no hint of morbidity. Emmaís song is delightful.
Spohrís works require the highest standards of virtuoso
tone production and elegance of phrasing and the artists in the present
recording all do a fine job.
This disc is produced in cooperation with the Spohr
Society of Great Britain, 121 Mount View Road, Sheffield, S8 8PJ; e-mail:
See also review
by Christopher Fifield