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Domenico CIMAROSA (1749 - 1801)
Sinfonia "L’Italia in Londra" (1779) [7.05]
Sinfonia "Cajo Mario" (1780) [8.49]
Sinfonia "I due supposti Conti" (1784) [8.33]
Concerto in Bb for harpsichord and chamber orchestra [19.58]
Elzbieta Stefanska Lukowicz, harpsichord. Edited and cadenzas by Giovanni Ballola.
Saverino MERCADANTE (1795 - 1870)

Concerto #2 in e for Flute and Strings, Op 57 (1819) [19.50]
Concerto in Bb for clarinet and chamber orchestra Op 101 [16.38]
Concerto in d for horn and chamber orchestra [6.46]
Kurt Leister, clarinet; Maxence Larrieu, flute; Hermann Baumann, horn
The Masterplayers/Richard Schumacher
Rec. 1978 by Nuova Fonit Cetra, location not given. Originally released on LP. ADD
Notes in Italiano and English. www.masterplayers.org
WARNER FONIT 5050466-2642-2-0 [44.40 + 43.19]


Lest there should be any concern, let it be noted that the Shoemaker and Schumacher families diverged before the 14th century. While I am probably related to Belgian composer Maurice Schoemaker, Richard Schumacher is at most a very, very distant cousin and I review his performance with uncompromised objectivity.* It is necessary to make that point because I want to say some very nice things about this performance.

Recording is clear and the perspective is realistic. The orchestra plays very beautifully with precision and luscious tone; their trills are a marvel of articulation. Soloists are superb. Where they have worthwhile music the result is a first-rate musical experience, but a few of these pieces are beyond rescue.

Cimarosa is one of these composers who wrote a zillion operas, of which only The Secret Marriage is occasionally performed today, although several of the others have been recorded. Time has offered the insight that perhaps he only had a dozen good tunes and just kept repackaging them with different stories. Anyway, here are the very enjoyable overtures to three of his operas; they beautifully, elegantly, promise a good time to come and are quite different from each other.

Arthur Benjamin arranged several movements selected from Cimarosa’s keyboard sonatas (They must be quite short since out of a total of 87 sonatas, 63 have been recorded onto two CD’s) into an oboe concerto that is widely performed, and justly so, but neither these sinfonie nor this harpsichord concerto bear any resemblance to that work. The concerto shows the preference of its composer in that the two inner movements are a recitative and aria, no doubt a particular favourite from one of his operas and very adroitly arranged for harpsichord and strings. The last movement of the concerto may well be arranged from an operatic first act finale in the Rossini style, and it makes a brilliant conclusion to this first CD of our recorded concert. The harpsichord is a modest sized instrument and is heard in a realistic perspective against the string orchestra, but every note is clear.

Mercadante is an Italian opera composer who was pivotal in the change in style from the Rossinian bel canto to the simpler and more realistic styles used by Verdi and Puccini, was called the "Italian Meyerbeer" and also "Verdi’s step-up". Here we have a sampling of his very operatic concerti. Maxence Larrieu is a superb flute soloist with a rich and varied tone, a strong cantilena, astonishing control and agility, and seemingly inexhaustible breath; and this concerto is very much worth the effort he puts into it. It is probably no accident that the musical style is reminiscent of Paganini.

Unfortunately the clarinet concerto is the weakest piece of music on the disk in spite of clarinettist Leister’s beautiful tone, skilled control, and astonishing agility, especially in the last movement. I am certainly aware of recordings where the skill and enthusiasm of the performers can promote a piece of uninteresting music into a first rate musical experience, but the flatness this music overcomes the best efforts of all. However, a student of the clarinet may find a great deal here to interest.

Horn soloist Baumann is the equal of his skilled and distinguished colleagues. This concerto promises much in its solemn dramatic opening. However, the work is so brief no significant musical interest develops.


* I am also distantly related both to Richard Nixon and Hermann Goering. So don’t make trouble.

Paul Shoemaker

 



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