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Early Music

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger




Carlos BAGUER (1768-1808)
Sinfonias

Sinfonia in B flat major
Sinfonia in E flat major
Sinfonia in E flat major
Orquesta de Camera Reina Sofía/Gonçal Comellas
Recorded Madrid 1985
ENSAYO CD 9741 [55.19]

www.ensayo.com



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The congenial Sinfonias of Catalan organist Carlos Baguer are steeped in Haydn’s influence. Though he was received into Holy Orders Baguer renounced religious status at around the turn of the new century and his compositions show more explicit interest in instrumental and orchestral than in liturgical music. He did write an opera in 1798 (The Philosopher Princess), which was produced in Barcelona, where he spent almost all of his life – but he also essayed the expected array of classical forms as well as sacred dramas, carols and a sizeable amount of keyboard music.

Catalans generally preferred three-movement symphonic form or else one that stressed the rondo or sonata form strength of the work (and these latter often served as introductions to his oratorios and operas). Baguer’s three Sinfonías are here undated and unnumbered. They conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and where appropriate are spiced with little melodic twists or quirks of orchestration that keep interest alive. The B flat major for example opens in – as do most – a form of compressed Haydnesque development but the Andante con sordini (all three slow movements are con sordini) is somewhat repetitive though enlivened by a jaunty rising oboe figure accompanied by cello and bass pizzicati and by the violins’ veiled replies. There’s more work for the oboe in the Minuetto – a short and attractive movement. The first of the E flat majors sports some attractive horn harmonies in the Allegro con brio first movement and attractively yielding melodies – indeed lyrical fluency is a mark of Baguer’s writing throughout though due to the compressive nature of the Sinfonias it is never really tested by developmental potential (and in truth there can be a little repetitiousness in the writing).

The Orquesta de Camera Reina Sofía comprises four first violins, four seconds, three violas, two cellos, one bass, two oboes and one horn and they are a pleasingly alert group. I like the stately lyricism engendered in the slow movement in the second of the E flat majors – the longest single movement in all these three works – even though there is sometimes a feeling that things are a little unvaried in texture. Nothing shatteringly novel about these works but they do shed light on a Catalan who sought inspiration in classic central European models.

Jonathan Woolf

 



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