this music was new to me, and I am delighted to have made its
acquaintance, especially in such fluent, well recorded performances.
was a name I knew long before I had ever heard any of his music.
In 1785 he established what became one of the most important
of all Viennese music publishers; the Hoffmeister catalogue
included works by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, as well as by
a host of lesser composers, such as Pleyel, Wanhal, Dittersdorf
and Albrechtsberger. Hoffmeister’s is a name which turns up
in biographies of Mozart and Beethoven. What I, at least, was
slower to learn was that Hoffmeister was also a prolific composer
himself – his works include over thirty string quartets, more
than fifty symphonies, eight operas etc, etc! It is only in
relatively recent times that there has been much of an opportunity
to hear much of this music. A recent Naxos issue, for example,
contains three of his string quartets persuasively played by
the Aviv Quartet.
I understand the booklet notes to this CD correctly - they are
the work of Dieter Klöcker, leader of Consortium Classicum -
these wind serenades are played in editions prepared from manuscripts;
we are assured that more such works “continue to slumber away
as manuscripts in the local archives”.
music belongs firmly in the tradition of Viennese Harmoniemusik
and, as such, contains no great surprises. The idiom is not
an especially personal one and originality is not their strongest
claim on our attention. Their understanding of the common idiom
is, on the other hand, absolute; the attention to instrumental
blending is wonderfully sensitive, the ear for effect and for
tonal juxtaposition is very well developed. Any listener fond
of this musical idiom – fond of the wind serenades of Mozart
or Beethoven or, indeed of Stamitz – will find much to relish
Esterhazy-Parthia (Parthia being a term for a suite) has three
movements; Parthia Nos. 25 and 3 have four movements; Parthia
No. 24 is made up of five movements. Consortium Classicum, it
will be noted, uses a double bass to underpin the wind instruments.
Klöcker explains this choice as, in part, based on comments
by the clarinettist Anton Stadler (friend of both Mozart and
Hoffmeister), quoted in the booklet. The effect gives a particular
spring to the rhythms of some of the faster movements. There
is much graciously expressive writing in Hoffmeister’s slow
movements, and all the wind instruments get their moments in
the foreground as well as making their contributions to the
subtle interplay of voices.
Classicum has been active since 1962 - with some changes of
personnel - and is thoroughly at home in this music, which could
scarcely have better advocates.
is deeply civilised and sophisticated music, subtle but wholly
unpretentious, with an air of outdoor freshness about it. I
hope that some of those other manuscripts will soon be awoken
from their slumbers!